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Smithsonian Institution 

Given in 

memory of 




Letitia Armistead Hanson 




\ ■ - .■ 




VOLUME I, 1889 












CHARLES J. BELL, Treasurer 











- Secretaries 

y Managers 



New Haven, Conn. 


Olc irt 


Yol. I. 

JSTo. 1. 






Price 50 Cents. 


Announcement i 

Introductory Address by the President 3 

Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation: Wm. M. Davis . 11 

Classification of GeograpMc Forms by Genesis : W. J. McGee . 27 

The Great Storm of March 11 to 14, 1888 : A. W. Greely, 87 

Everett Hayden . 40 

The Survey of the Coast : Herbert G. Ogden .... 59 

The Survey and Map of Massachusetts : Henry Gannett . 78 

Proceedings of the National Geogi-aphic Society . . . 87 
National Geographic Society 

Certificate of incorporation 89 

By-laws 90 

List of Ofiicers, 1888 93 

List of Members 94 



The "National Geographic Society" has been organized 
" to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge," and the publi- 
cation of a Magazine has been determined upon as one means of 
accomplishing these purposes. 

It will contain memoirs, essays, notes, correspondence, reviews, 
etc., relating to Geographic matters. As it is not intended to be 
simply the organ of the Society, its pages will be open to all 
persons interested in Geography, in the hope that it may become 
a channel of intercommunication, stimulate geographic investiga- 
tion and prove an acceptable medium for the publication of 

The Magazine is to be edited by the Society. At present it 
will be issued at irregular intervals, but as the sources of infor- 
mation are increased the numbers will appear periodicallj;-. 

The National Capital seems to be the natural and appropriate 
place for an association of this character, and the aim of the 
founders has been, therefore, to form a National rather than a 
local society. 

As it is hoped to diffuse as well as to increase knowledge, 
due prominence will be given to the educational aspect of geo- 
graphic matters, and efforts will be made to stimulate an 
interest in original sources of information. 

In addition to organizing, holding regular fortnightly meetings 
for presenting scientific and popular communications, and enter- 
ing upon the publication of a Magazine, considerable progress 
has been made in the preparation of a Physical Atlas of the 
United States. 

The Society was organized in January, 1888, under the laws of 
the District of Columbia, and has at present an active member- 
ship of about two hundred persons. But there is no limitation 
to the number of members, and it will welcome both leaders and 
followers in geographic science, in order to better accomplish the 
objects of its organization. 

October, 1888. 

Correspondence with the Society should be addressed to Mr. 
George Kennan, Corresponding Secretary, No. 1318 Massa- 
chusetts Avenue, Washington, D. C. 



Vol. I. 1888. No. 1. 


By the President, Mr. Gardiner G. Hubbard. 

I AM not a scientific man, nor can I lay claim to any special 
tnowledge that would entitle me to be called a " Geographer." 
I owe the honor of my election as Pi'esident of the National 
Geographic Society simply to the fact that I am one of those 
who desire to further the prosecution of geographic research, I 
possess only the same general interest in the subject of geog- 
raphy that should be felt by every educated man. 

By my election you notify the public that the membership of 
our Society will not be confined to professional geographers, but 
will include that large number who, like myself, desire to pro- 
mote special researches by others, and to diffuse the knowledge 
«o gained, among men, so that we may all know more of the 
world upon which we live. 

By the establishment of this Society we hope to bring to- 
gether (]) the scattered workers of our country, and (2) the 
persons who desire to promote their researches. In union there 
is strength, and through the medium of a national organization, 
we may hope to promote geographic research in a manner that 
could not be accomplished by scattered individuals, or by local 
societies; we may also hope — through the same agency — to dif- 
fuse the results of geographic research over a wider area than 
would otherwise be possible. 

4- National Geograjphic Magazine. 

The position to which I have been called has compelled me 
to become a student. Since my election I have been trying to 
learn the meaning of the word " geography," and something of 
the history of the science to which it relates. The Greek origin 
of the word {yij, the earth, and ypatprj, description) betrays the 
source from which we derived the science, and shows that it 
relates to a description of the earth. But the " earth " known 
to the Greeks was a very different thing from the earth with 
which we are acquainted. 

To the ancient Greek it meant land — not all land, but only a 
limited territory, in the centre of which he lived. His earth 
comprised simply the Persian Empire, Italy, -Egypt and the bor- 
ders of the Black and Mediterranean seas, besides his own coun- 
try. Beyond these limits, the land extended indefinitely to an 
unknown distance — till it reached the borders of the great ocean 
which completely surrounded it. 

To the members of this society the word " earth " suggests a 
very diffei'ent idea. The term arouses in our minds the concep- 
tion of an enormous globe suspended in empty space, one side 
in shadow and the other bathed in the rays of the sun. The 
outer surface of this globe consists of a uniform, unbroken ocean 
of air, enclosing another more solid surface (composed partly of 
land and partly of water), which teems with countless forms 
of animal and vegetable life. This is the earth of which geo- 
graphy gives lis a description. 

To the ancients the earth was a flat plain, solid and immovable, 
and surrounded by water, oiit of which the sun rose in the east 
and into which it set in the west. To them " Geography " meant 
simply a description of the lands with which they were ac- 

Herodotus, who lived about the year 450 B. C, transmitted to 
posterity an account of the world as it was known in his day. 
We look upon him as the father of geography as well as of 
history. He visited the known regions of the earth, and de- 
scribed accurately what he saw, thus laying the fouiidations of 
comparative geography. 

About 300 years B. C, Alexander the Great penetrated into 
hitherto unknown regions, conquered India and Russia, and 
founded the Macedonian Empire. He sent a naval expedition to 
explore the coasts of India, accompanied by philosophers or 
learned men, who described the new countries discovered and 

Ini/roduGtory Addi^ess. 5 

the character of their mhabitants. This voyage may be consid- 
ered as originating the science of Political Geography, or the 
geography of man. 

About the year 200 B, C, Eratosthenes of Gyrene, the keeper 
of the Royal Library at Alexandria, became convinced, from ex- 
periments, that the idea of the rotundity of the earth, which had 
been advanced by some of his predecessors, was correct, and 
attempted to determine upon correct principles its magnitude. 
The town of Cyrene, on the river Nile, was situated exactly 
under the tropic, for he knew that on the day of the summer 
solstice, the sun's rays illuminated at noon the bottom of a 
deep well in that city. At Alexandria, however, on the day 
of the summer solstice, Eratosthenes observed that the vertical 
finger of a sun-dial cast a shadow at noon, showing that the sun 
was not there exactly overhead. From the length of the shadow 
he ascertained the sun's distance from the zenith to be 7° 12', or 
one-fiftieth part of the circumference of the heavens ; from which 
he calculated that if the world was round the distance between 
Alexandria and Gyrene should be one-fiftieth part of the circum- 
ference of the world. The distance between these cities was 
5000 stadia, from which he calculated that the circumference of 
the world was fifty times this amount, or 250,000 stadia. Un- 
fortunately we are ignorant of the exact length of a stadium, 
so we have no means of testing the accuracy of his deduction. 
He was the founder of Mathematical Geography; it became pos- 
sible through the labors of Eratosthenes to determine the loca- 
tion of places on the surface of the earth by means of lines cor- 
responding to our lines of latitude and longitude. 

Claudius Ptolemy, in the second century of the Christian era, 
made a catalogue of the positions of plans as determined by 
Erastosthenes and his successors, and with this as his basis, he 
made a series of twenty-six maps, thus exhibiting, at a glance, 
in geographical form, the results of the labors of all who pre- 
ceded him. To him we owe the art of map-making, the origina- 
tion of Geographic Art. 

We thus see that when Rome began to rule the world, the 
Greeks had made great progress in geography. They already 
possessed Comparative, Political and Mathematical Geography, 
and Geographic Art, or the art of making maps. 

Then came a pause in the progress of geography. 

The Romans were so constantly occupied with the practical 
affairs of life, that they paid little attention to any other kind of 

6 National Oeograjphic Magazine. 

geography than that which facilitated the administration of their 
empire. They were great road-builders, and laid out highways 
from Rome to the farthest limits of their possessions. Maps of 
their military roads were made, but little else. These exhibited 
with accuracy the less and greater stations on the route from 
Rome to India, and from Rome to the further end of Britain. 

Then came the decline and fall of Rome, and with it the com- 
plete collapse of geographical knowledge. In the dark ages, 
geography practically ceased to exist. In the typical map of 
the middle ages, Jerusalem lay in the centre with Paradise on 
the East and Europe on the West. It was not until, the close of 
the dark ages that the spirit of discovery was re-awakened.. 
Then the adventurous Northmen from Norway and Sweden 
crossed the ocean to Iceland. 

From Iceland they proceeded to Greenland and even visited 
the main-land of North America about the year 1000 A. D., 
coasting as far south as New England; but these voyages led to 
no practical results, and were forgotten or looked upon as myths, 
until within a few years. For hundreds of years geography 
made but little advance — and the discoveries of five centuries 
were less than those now made in five years. In the fourteenth 
or fifteenth century, the mariner's compass was introduced into 
Europe from China, and it then became possible to venture upon 
the ocean far out of sight of land. Columbus instead of coast- 
ing from shore to shore like the ancient Northmen, boldly set sail 
across the Atlantic. To many of his contemporaries it must have 
seemed madness to seek the East by thus sailing towards the 
West, and we need hardly wonder at the opposition experienced 
from his crew. The rotundity of the earth had become to him an 
objective reality, and in sublime faith he pursued his westward 
way. Expecting to find the East Indies he found America in- 
stead. Five centuries had elapsed since the Northmen had made 
their voyages to these shores — and their labors had proved to 
be barren of results. The discovery of Columbus, however, im- 
mediately bore fruit. It was his genius and perseverance alone 
that gave the new world to the people of Europe, and he is 
therefore rightfully entitled to be called the discoverer of Amer- 
ica. His discovery was fraught with enormous consequences, 
and it inaugurated a new era for geographic research. The 
spirit of discovery was quickened and geogi-aphic knowledge ad- 
vanced with a great leap. America was explored ; Africa was 

Introdtbctory Address. 7 

circumnavigated. Magellan demonstrated the rotundity of the 
earth by sailing westward until he reached his starting point. 
Everywhere — all over the civilized world — the spirit of adven- 
ture was ai'oused. Navigators from England, Holland, France 
and Spain rapidly extended the boundaries of geographical 
knowledge, while explorers penetrated into the interior of the 
new lands discovered. The mighty impetus given by Columbus 
set the whole world in motion and it has gone on moving ever 
since with accelerated velocity. 

The great progress that has been made can hardly be realized 
without comparing the famous Borgia map, constructed about 
one hundred years before the discovery of America, with the 
modern maps of the same countries ; or Hubbard's map of New 
England made two hundred years ago, with the corresponding 
map of to-day. The improvements in map-making originated 
with Mercator, who, in 1550 constructed his cylindrical projec- 
tion of the sphere. But it has been only during the last hundred 
years that great progress has been made. Much yet remains to 
be done before geographic art can fully accomplish its mission. 

The present century forms a new era in the progress of geog- 
raphy — the era of organized research. In 1830, the Royal 
Geographical Society of England was founded, and it already 
forms a landmark in the history of discovery. The Paris Society 
preceded it in point of time, and the other countries of Europe 
soon followed the example. Through these organizations, stu- 
dents and explorers have been encouraged and assisted, and in- 
formation systematically collected and arranged. The wide 
diffusion of geographical knowledge through the medium of 
these societies and the publicity of the discussions and criticism 
that followed, operated to direct the current of exploration into 
the most useful channels. Before organized effort, darkness gave 
way at every step. Each observer added fresh knowledge to the 
existing store, without unnecessary duplication of research. The 
reports of discoveries were discussed and criticized by the socie- 
ties, and the conti'ibutions of all were co-ordinated into one great 

America refuses to be left in the rear. Already her explorers 
are in every land and on every sea. Already she has contributed 
her quota of martyrs in the frozen north, and has led the way 
into the torrid regions of Africa. The people of Europe, 
through Columbus, opened up a new world for us ; and we. 

8 National Geographic Magazine. 

through Stanley, have discovered a new world in the old, for 

Much has been done on land — little on the other three-quar- 
ters of the earth's surface. But here America has laid the foun- 
dations of a new science, — the Geography of the Sea. 

Our explorers have mapped out the surface of the ocean and 
discovered the great movements of the waters. They have traced 
the southward flow of the Arctic waters to temper the climate of 
the torrid zone. They have followed the northward set of the 
heated waters of the equator and have shown how they form 
those wonderful rivers of warm water that flow, without walls, 
through the colder waters of the sea, till they strike the western 
shores of Europe and America, and how they render habitable the 
almost Arctic countries of Great Britian and Alaska. They have 
even followed these warm currents further and shown how they 
penetrate the Arctic Ocean to lessen the rigors of the Arctic cold. 
Bravely, but vainly, have they sought for that ignis fatuus of 
explorers — the open polar sea — produced by the action of the 
warm waters from the south. 

American explorers have sounded the depths of the ocean and 
discovered mountains and valleys beneath the waves. They have 
found the great plateaus on which the cables rest that bring us 
into instantaneous communication with the rest of the world. 
They have shown the probable existence of a vast submarine range 
of mountains, extending nearly the whole length of the Pacific 
Ocean— mountains so high that their summits rise above the sur- 
face to form islands and archipelagoes in the Pacific. And all 
this vast region of the earth, which, a few years ago, was con- 
sidered uninhabitable on account of the great pressure, they have 
discovered to be teeming with life. From the depths of the ocean 
they have brought living things, whose lives Avere spent under 
conditions of such pressure that the elastic force of their own 
bodies burst them open before they could be brought to the sur 
face ; living creatures whose self-luminous spots supplied them 
with the light denied them in the deep abyss from which they 
sprang— abysses so deep that the powerful rays of the sun could 
only feebly penetrate to illuminate or warm. 

The exploring vessels of our Fish Commission have discovered 
in the deep sea, in one single season, more forms of life than were 
found by the Challenger Expedition in a three years' cruise. 
Through their agency, we have studied the geographical distribu- 

Introductory Address. 9 

tion of marine life ; and in our marine laboratories, explorers have 
studied the life history of the most useful forms. 

The knowledge gained has enabled us to breed and multiply at 
will ; to protect the young fish during the period of their in- 
fancy — when alone they are liable to wholesale destruction — finally 
to release them in the ocean, in those waters that are most suit- 
able to their growth. The fecundity of fish is so great, and the 
protection afforded them during the critical period of their life so 
ample, that it may now be possible to feed the world from the 
ocean and set the laws of Matthews at defiance. Our geographers 
of the sea have shown that an acre of water may be made to pro- 
duce more food for the support of man than ten acres of arable 
land. They have thrown open to cultivation a territory of the 
earth constituting three-quarters of the entire surface of the globe. 

And what shall we say of our conquests in that other vast ter- 
ritory of the earth, greater in extent than all the oceans and the 
lands put together — the atmosphere that surrounds it. 

Here again America has led the way, and laid the foundations 
of a Geography of the Air. But a little while ago and we might 
have truly said with the ancients " the wind bloweth where it 
listeth, and we know neither from whence it comes nor whither it 
goes"; but now our explorers track the wind from point to point 
and telegraph warnings in advance of the storm. 

In this department, the Geography of the Air, we have far out- 
stripped the nations of the world. We have passed the mob- 
period of research when the observations of multitudes of individ- 
uals amounted to little, from lack of concentrated action. Organi- 
zation has been effected. A Central Bureau has been established 
in Washington, and an army of trained observers has been 
dispersed over the surface of the globe, who all observe the con- 
dition of the atmosphere according to a pre-concerted plan. 

The vessels of our navy and the mercantile marine of our own 
and other countries have been impressed into the service, and thus 
our geographers of the air are stationed in every land and traverse 
the waters of every sea. Every day, at the same moment of ab- 
solute time, they observe and note the condition of the atmosphere 
at the part of the earth where they happen to be, and the latitude 
and longitude of their position. The collocation of these observa- 
tions gives us a series of what -may be termed instantaneous 
photographs of the condition of the whole atmosphere. The co- 
ordination of the observations, and their geographical representa- 

10 National Geographic Magazine. 

tion upon a map, is undertaken by a staff of trained experts in the 
Central Bureau in Washington, and through this organization we 
obtain a weather-map of the world for every day of the year. 
We can now study at leisure the past movements of the atmos- 
phere, and from these observations we shall surely discover the 
grand laws that control aerial phenomena. We shall then not 
only know, as we do at present, whence comes the wind and 
whither it goes, but be able to predict its movements for the 
benefit of humanity. 

Already we have attained a useful, though limited, power of 

Our Central Bureau daily collects observations by telegraph 
from all parts of this continent, and our experts are thus enabled 
to forecast the probabilities by a few hours. Day by day the re- 
sults are communicated to the public by telegraph in time to avert 
disaster to the mariners on our eastern coast, and facilitate agri- 
cultural operations in the Eastern and Middle States. 

Although many of the predictions are still falsified by events, 
the percentage of fulfilments has become so large as to show that 
continued research will in the future give us fresh forms of pre- 
diction and increase the usefulness of this branch of science to 

In all departments of geographical knowledge, Americans are 
at work. They have pushed themselves into the front rank and 
they demand the best efforts of their countrymen to encourage 
and support. 

When we embark on the great ocean of discovery, the horizon 
of the unknown advances with us and surrounds us wherever we 
go. The more we know, the greater we find is our ignorance. 
Because we know so little we have formed this society for the in- 
crease and diffusion of Geographical knowledge. Because our 
subject is so large we have organized the society into four broad 
sections: relating to the geography of the land, H. G. Ogden, vice- 
president ; the sea, J. R. Bartlett, vice-president ; the air, A. W. 
Greely, vice-president ; the geographic distribution of life, C. H. 
Merriam, vice-president; to which we have added a fifth, relating 
to the abstract science of geographic art, including the art of map- 
making etc., A. H. Thompson, vice-president ; our recording and 
corresponding secretaries are Henry Gannett and George Kennan. 

We have been fortunate indeed to secure as Vice-Presidents 
men learned in each department, and who have been personally 
identified with the work of research. 

Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation. 11 


By W. M. Davis. 

Definition of Geography and Geology — Geographic Methods in Geology — Hutton 
and Lyell — Marine deposits explained by existing processes reveal the history 
of the earth — American Topographers — First Pennsylvania Survey ; geographic 
form as the result of extinct processes— Western Surveys; geographic form 
explained by existing processes reveals the history of the earth — Deductive 
Topography — Comparison with Palceontology — Geographic Individuals — Classi- 
fication according to structure — Ideal cycle of regular development — Interrup- 
tions in the Simple Ideal Cycle — Geography needs ideal types and technical 
terms — Comparison with the biological sciences — Teaching of Geography — The 
water-falls of Northeastern Pennsylvania as examples of deductive study — 
Systematic Geography. 

The history of the earth includes among many things an 
account of its structure and form at successive times, of the pro- 
cesses by which changes in its structure and form have been 
produced, and of the causes of these processes. Geography is 
according to ordinary definition allowed of all this only an 
account of the present form of the earth, while geology takes all 
the rest, and it is too generally the case that even the present 
form of the earth is insufficiently examined by geographers. 
Geographic morphology, or topography, is not yet developed into 
a science. Some writers seem to think it a division of geology, 
while geologists are as a rule too much occupied with other mat- 
ters to give it the attention it deserves. It is not worth while to 
embarrass one's study by too much definition of its subdivisions, 
but it is clearly advisable in this case to take such steps as shall 
hasten a critical and minute examination of the form of the 
earth's surface by geographers, and to this end it may serve a 
useful purpose to enlarge the limited definition of geography, as 
given above, and insist that it shall include not only a descriptive 
and statistical account of the present surface of the earth, but 
also a systematic classification of the features of the earth's sur- 
face, viewed as the results of certain processes, acting for various 
periods, at dijfferent ages, on divers structures. As Mackinder of 
Oxford has recently expressed it, geography is the study of the 

12 National Geographic Magazine. 

present in the light of the past. When thus conceived it forms a 
fitting complement to geology, which, as defined by the same 
author, is the study of the past in the light of the present. The 
studies are inseparable and up to a certain point, their physical 
aspects may be well followed together, under such a name as 
physiography. Specialization may then lead the student more to 
one subject than to the other. 

An illusti-ation from human history, where the study of the 
past and present has a single name, may serve to make my mean- 
ing clear in regard to the relation of the two parts of terrestrial 
history, which have different names. A descriptive and statisti- 
cal account of a people as at present existing, such as that which 
our statistical atlas of the last Census gives in outline, corre- 
sponds to geography in its ordinary limitation. A reasonable ex- 
tension of such an account, introducing a consideration of antece- 
dent conditions and events, for the purpose of throwing light on 
existing relations, represents an expanded conception of geogra- 
phy. The minute study of the rise and present condition of any 
single industry would correspond to the monographic account of 
the development of any simple group of geographic forms. On 
the other hand, history taken in its more general aspects, includ- 
ing an inquiry into the causes and processes of the rise and fall of 
ancient nations, answers to geology ; and an account of some 
brief past stage of history is the equivalent of paleography, a 
subject at present very little studied and seemingly destined 
always to escape sharp determination. It is manifest that 
geology and geography thus defined are parts of a single great 
subject, and must not be considered independently. 

History became a science when it outgrew mere nai-ration and 
seai'ched for the causes of the facts narrated ; when it ceased to 
accept old narratives as absolute records and judged them by 
criteria derived from our knowledge of human nature as we see 
it at present, but modified to accord with past conditions. 

Geology became a science when it adopted geographic methods. 
The interpretation of the past by means of a study of the present 
proves to be the only safe method of geologic investigation. 
Hutton and Lyell may be named as the prominent leaders of this 
school and if we admit a reasonable modification of their too 
pronounced uniformitarianism, all modern geologists are their 
followers. The discovery of the conservation and correlation of 
energy gives additional support to their thesis by ruling out the 

Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation. 13 

gratuitous assumption of great results from vague causes. Causes 
must be shown to be not only appropriate in quality, but suf- 
ficient in quantity before they can be safely accepted. But the 
geographic argument as expounded by the English school deals 
almost entirely with processes and neglects a large class of results 
that follow from these processes. Much attention is given to the 
methods of transferring the waste of the land to the sea and 
depositing it there in stratified masses, from which the history of 
ancient lands is determined. But the forms assumed by the 
wasting land have not been sufficiently examined. It was recog- 
nized in a general way that land forms were the product of denu- 
dation, but the enormous volume of material that had been 
washed off of the lands was hardly appreciated, and the great 
significance of the forms developed during the destruction of the 
land was not perceived. 

Button says a little about the relation of topography to struc- 
ture; Lyell says less. The systematic study of topography is 
largely American. There is opportunity for it in this country 
that is not easily found in Europe. The advance in this study 
has been made in two distinct steps : first, in the East about 
1840 ; second, in the West about 1870. The first step was taken 
in that historic decade when our early State surveys accomplished 
their great work. The Pennsylvania surveyors then developed 
topography into a science, as Lesley tells us so eloquently in his 
rare little book " Coal and its Topography," 1856, which deserves 
to be brought more to the attention of the younger geographers 
and geologists of to-day. It presents in brief and picturesque 
form the topographical results of the first geological survey of 
Pennsylvania. It shows how Lesley and the other members of 
that survey " became not mineralogists, not miners, not learned 
in fossils, not geologists in the full sense of the word, but topog- 
raphers, and topography became a science and was returned to 
Europe and presented to geology as an American invention. 
The passion with which we studied it is inconceivable, the details 
into which it leads us were infinite. Every township was a new 
monograph." (p. 125.) Some of the finest groups of canoes and 
zigzags developed on the folded beds of the Pennsylvania Appa- 
lachians are illustrated from studies made by Henderson, Whelp- 
ley and McKinley, and they certainly deserve the most attentive 
examination. I often feel that they have been of the greatest 
assistance in my own field work, especially in the efforts I have 

14 National Geographic Magazine. 

made to discover the structural arrangement of the Triassic lava 
sheets in the Connecticut valley. But although the intricacies of 
Appalachian topography were then clearly seen to depend on the 
complications of Appalachian structure, the process of topo- 
graphic development was not at that time discovered. "The 
only question open to discussion is," says Lesley, " whether this 
planing down of the crust to its present surface was a secular or 
an instantaneous work" (p. 132), and he decides in favor of the 
latter alternative. He adds, that to the field worker, " The rush 

of an ocean over a continent leads off the whole procession 

of his facts, and is indispensable to the exercise of his sagacity at 
every turn" (p. 166). "The present waters are the powerless 
modern representatives of those ancient floods which did the 
work" (p. 151). 

It is not the least in any spirit of disparagement that I quote 
these cataclysmic views, now abandoned even by their author. 
Great generalizations are not often completed at a single step, 
and it is enough that every effort at advance should have part of 
its movement in the right direction. What I wish to show is 
that 'topographic form was regarded in the days of our eastern 
surveys, even by our first master of American topography, as a 
completed product of extinct processes. Topography revealed 
structure, but it did not then reveal the long history that the 
structure hae passed through. The anticlinal valleys, hemmed in 
by the even-topped sandstone mountains of middle Pennsylvania, 
were found to tell plainly enough that a vast erosion had taken 
place, and that the resulting forms depended on the structure of 
the eroded mass, but it was tacitly understood that the land stood 
at its present altitude during the erosion. The even crest lines of 
the mountains and the general highland level of the dissected 
plateau farther west did not then reveal that the land had stood 
lower than at present during a great part of the erosion, and thus 
the full lesson of the topography was not learned. The system- 
atic relation of form to structure, base level and time ; the 
change of drainage areas by contest of headwaters at divides ; 
the revival of exhausted rivers by massive elevations of their 
drainage areas : all these consequences of slow adjustments were 
then unperceived. In later years there seems to be a general 
awakening to the great value of these principles, which mai-k the 
second stage in the advance of scientific topography, referred to 

Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation. 15 

It is not easy to sketch the history of this awakening. Ram- 
say years ago contributed an element in his explanation of plains 
of marine denudation ; Jukes opened the way to an understand- 
ing of cross valleys ; Newberry excluded fractures from the pro- 
duction of the most fracture-like of all water ways ; and our 
government surveyors in the western territories have fully devel- 
oped the all important idea of base level, of which only a brief 
and imperfect statement had previously been current. I cannot 
say how far European geographers and geologists would be will- 
ing to place the highest value on the last named element ; to me 
it takes the place of Lesley's ocean flood, in leading off the whole 
procession of outdoor facts. It is indispensable at every turn. 
Recently, mention should be made of Lowl, of Prague, who has 
done so much to explain the development of rivers, and of 
McGee, who has explicitly shown that we must "read geologic 
history in erosion as well as in deposition." 

If it be true that the greater part of this second advance is 
American like the first, it must be ascribed to the natural oppor- 
tunities allowed us. The topographers of the Appalachians had 
a field in which one great lesson was repeated over and over 
again and forced on their attention. The patchwork structure of 
Europe gave no such wide opportunity. The surveyors of the 
western territories again found broad regions telling one story, 
and all so plainly written that he must run far ahead who reads 
it. It is to this opportunity of rapid discovery and interpretation 
that Archibald Geikie alludes in the preface to the recent second 
edition of his charming volume on the " Scenery of Scotland." 
He says that since the book first appeared he has seen many parts 
of Europe, " but above all it has been my good fortune to have 
been able to extend the research into western America, and to 
have learned more during my months of sojourn there than dur- 
ing the same number of years in the Old Country." (p. vii.) 

Our position now is, therefore, while structure determines form 
as our earlier topographers taught, and while form-producing 
processes are slow, as had been demonstrated by the English 
geologists, that the sequence of forms assumed by a given struct- 
iire during its long life of waste is determinate, and that the 
early or young forms are recognizably different from the mature 
forms and the old forms. A youn^ plain is smooth. The same 
region at a latter date will be roughened by the channeling of its 
larger streams and by the increase in number of side branches, 

16 National Geographic Magazine. 

until it comes to " maturity," that is to the greatest variety or 
differentiation of form. At a still later date the widening of the 
valleys consumes the intervening hills, and the form becomes 
tamer, until in " old age " it returns to the simple plain surface 
of " youth." Young mountains possess structural lakes and are 
drained largely by longitudinal valleys ; old mountains have no 
such lakes and have transverse drainage, formed as the growing- 
headwaters of external streams lead out much water that form- 
erly followed the longitudinal valleys. Young rivers may have 
falls on tilted beds, but such are short lived. Falls on horizontal 
beds are common and survive on the headwater branches of even 
mature rivers. All falls disappear in old rivers, provided they 
are not resuscitated by some accident in the normal, simple cycle 
of river life. The phases of growth are as distinct as in organic 
forms. As this idea has grown in my mind from reading the 
authors above named, geography has gained a new interest. The 
different parts of the world are brought into natural relations 
with one another ; the interest that change, growth and life had 
before given to the biologic sciences only, now extends to the 
study of inorganic forms. It matters not that geographic growth 
is destructive ; it involves a systematic change of form from the 
early youth to the distant old age of a given structure, and that 
is enough. It matters not that the change is too slow for us to 
see its progress in any single structure. We do not believe that 
an oak grows from an acorn from seeing the full growth accom- 
plished while waiting for the evidence of the fact, but because 
partly by analogy with plants of quicker development, partly by 
the sight of oaks of different ages, we are convinced of a change 
that we seldom wait to see. It is the same with geographic forms. 
We find evidence of the wasting of great mountains in the wast- 
ing of little mounds of sand ; and we may by searching find exam- 
ples of young, mature and old mountains, that follow as well 
marked a sequence as that formed by small, full grown and 
decaying oaks. If the relative positions of the members in the 
sequence is not manifest at first, we have the mental pleasure of 
searching for their true arrangement. The face of nature thus 
becomes alive and full of expression, and the conception of its 
change becomes so real that one almost expects to see the change 
in successive visits to one place. 

Now consider the deductive application of this principle. 
Having recognized the sequence of forms developed during the 

Oeographic Methods in Geologic Investigation. lY 

wasting life of a single structure, reverse the conception and 
we have a powerful geographic method for geologic investiga- 
tion. On entering a new country, apply there the principles 
learned from the inductive study of familiar regions, and much 
past history is revealed ; the age of mountains may be deduced 
from their form as well as from their rocks ; the altitudes at 
which a district has stood may be determined by traces of its 
old base levels, of which we learn nothing from the ordinary 
routine of geologic observation, that is, from a study of the 
structure and age of the rocks themselves. The principle is com^- 
monly employed nowadays, but its methods are not formulated, 
and its full value is hardly yet perceived. Heim has found traces 
of successive elevations in the Alps, proved by incipient base 
levels at several consistent altitudes on the valley slopes. New- 
berry, Powell and Dutton have worked out the history of the 
plateau and cailon region from its topography; Chamberlin and 
Salisbury write of the young and old topographic forms of the 
drift-covered and the driftless areas in Wisconsin ; LeConte and 
Stephenson have interpreted chapters in the history of California 
and Pennsylvania from the form of the valleys. Recently Mc- 
Gee has added most interesting chapters to the history of our 
middle Atlantic slope, in an essay that gives admirable practical 
exposition of the geographic methods. In the light of these 
original and suggestive studies one may contend that when 
geographic forms in their vast variety are thus systematically 
interpreted as the surface features of as many structures, belong- 
ing to a moderate number of families and having expression 
characteristic of their age and accidents, their elevation and 
opportunity, then geography will be for the wasting Unds what 
palaeontology has come to be for the growing ocean floors. 

An interesting compai'ison may be drawn here. Fossils were 
first gathered and described as individual specimens, with no 
comprehension of their relationships and their significance. It 
was later found that the fossils in a certain small part of the 
world, England — that wonderful epitome of geologic history — 
were arranged in sequences in the bedded rocks containing them, 
certain groups of forms together, successive groups in shelves, as 
it were, one over another. Then it was discovered that the local 
English scale had a wider application, and finally it has come to be 
accepted as a standard, with certain modifications, for the whole 
world. The exploring geologist does not now wait to learn if 

18 National Geographic Magazine. 

a formation containing trilobites underlies another containing- 
ammonites, but on finding the fossils in the two, confidently and 
as far as we know correctly concludes that such is their relative 
position. Thus the sequence of submarine processes is made out 
by the sequence of organic forms. In brief, palaeontology has 
passed largely from the inductive to the deductive stage. 

The geographer first regarded the features of the land as com- 
pleted entities, with whose origin he was in no wise concerned. 
Later it was found that some conception of their origin was im- 
portant in appreciating their present form, but they were still 
regarded as the product of past, extinct processes. This view 
has been in turn displaced by one that considers the features of 
the land as the present stage of a long cycle of systematically 
changing forms, sculptured by processes still in operation. Now 
recognizing the sequence of changing forms, we may determine 
the place that any given feature occupies in the entire sequence 
through which it must pass in its whole cycle of development. 
And then reversing this conception we are just beginning to de- 
duce the past history of a district by the degree of development 
of its features. Geography is, in other words, entering a de- 
ductive stage, like that already reached by palaeontology. 

The antecedent of deductive topography is the systematic 
study of land geography. The surface of the land is made up 
of many more or less distinct geographic individuals, every indi- 
vidual consisting of a single structure, containing many parts or 
features whose expression varies as the processes of land sculpture 
carry the whole through its long cycle of life. There is endless 
variety among the thousands of structures that compose the land, 
but after recognizing a few large structural families, the remain- 
ing differences may be regarded as individual. In a given family, 
the individuals present great differences of expression with age, 
as between the vigorous relief of the young Himalaya and the 
subdued forms of the old Appalachians ; or with elevation over 
base level, as between the gentle plain of the low Atlantic coast 
and the precocious high plateaus of the Colorado river region ; 
or with opportunity, as between the last named plateaus with ex- 
terior drainage and the high plains of the Great Basin, whose 
waters have no escape save by evaporation or high level overflow ; 
or with complexity of history, as between the immature, unde- 
veloped valleys of the lava block country of southern Oregon, 
and the once empty, then gravel-filled, and now deeply terraced 

Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation. 19 

inner valleys of the Himalaya. When thus studied, the endless 
variety of the topography will be considered in its proper 
relations, and it will not seem as hopeless as it does now to 
gain a rational understanding and appreciation of geographic 

We should first recognize the fact that a geographic individual 
is an area, large or small, whose surface form depends on a single 
structure. Boundaries may be vague, different individuals may 
be blended or even superposed, but in spite of the indefiniteness, 
the attempt to sub-divide a region into the individuals that com- 
pose it will be found very profitable. In a large way the Apj)a- 
lachian plateau is an individual ; the Adirondacks, the terminal 
moraine of the second glacial epoch are others. In a small way, 
a drumlin, a fan delta, a mesa, are individuals. The linear 
plateaus of middle Pennsylvania are hybrids between the well- 
developed linear ridges of the mountains farther east and the 
irregular plateau masses farther west. 

A rough classification of geographic individuals would group 
them under such headings as plains, plateaus, and rough broken 
countries of horizontal structure ; mountains of broken, tilted or 
folded structure, generally having a distinct linear extension ; 
volcanoes, including all the parts from the bottom of the stem or 
neck, up to the lateral subterranean expansions known as lacco- 
lites, and to the surface cones and flows ; glacial drift ; wind 
drift. The agents which accomplished the work of denudation 
are also susceptible of classification : rivers according to the ar- 
rangement of their branches, and their imperfections in the form 
of lakes and glaciers. The valleys that rivers determine may be 
considered as the converse of the lands in which they are cut ; 
and the waste of the land on the way to the sea is susceptible of 
careful discrimination : local soil, talus, alluvial deposits, fan 
cones and fan deltas, flood plains and shore deltas. Their varia- 
tions dependent on climatic conditions are of especial importance. 
The structures formed along shore lines are also significant. This 
list is intentionally brief, and the lines between its divisions are 
not sharply drawn. It undoubtedly requires discussion and criti- 
cism before adoption. It differs but slightly from the common 
geographic stock in trade, but for its proper application it requires 
that the geographer should be in some degree a geologist. 

The changes in any geographic individual from the time when 
it was offered to th e destructive forces to the end of its life, when 

20 National GeografJdG Magazine. 

it is worn down to a featureless base level surface, are worthy of 
the most attentive study. The immaturity of the broken country 
of southern Oregon, as compared with the more advanced forms 
of the Basin ranges, is a case in hand. The Triassic formation 
of the Connecticut va'lley is in some ways of similar structure, 
being broken by long parallel faults into narrow blocks or slabs, 
every block being tilted from its original position. Russell's de- 
scription of the blocks in southern Oregon would apply nicely to 
those in Connecticut, except that the former have diverse dis- 
placements, while the latter all dip one way ; but the Connecticut 
individual has, I feel confident, passed through one cycle of life 
and has entered well on a second ; it has once been worn down 
nearly to base level since it was broken and faulted, and subse- 
quent elevation at a rather remote period has allowed good ad- 
vance in a repetition of this process. The general uniformity in 
the height of its trap ridges and their strong relief above the 
present broad valley bottom, require us to suppose this complex- 
ity of history. A given structure may therefore pass through 
two or more successive cycles of life, and before considering the 
resulting composite history in its entirety, it would be best to 
examine cases of simple development in a single cycle. After 
this is accomplished, it would be possible to recognize the incom- 
plete partial cycles through which a structure has passed, and to 
refer every detail of form to the cycle in which it was produced. 
The most elementary example that may be chosen to illustrate 
a simple cycle of geographic life is that of a plain, elevated to 
a moderate height above its base level. The case has already 
been referred to here and is given in more detail in an article 
printed in the proceedings of the American Association for the 
Advancement of Science, for 1884, to which I would now refer. 
When the succession of forms there described as developed at a 
given elevation over base level is clearly perceived, the occurrence 
of forms dependent on two different base levels in a single region 
can easily be recognized. The most striking example of such a 
complex case that I know of is that of the high plateaus of Utah, 
as described by Dutton. Northern New Jersey pi-esents another 
example less striking but no less valuable : the general upland 
surface of the Highlands is an old base level, in which valleys 
have been cut in consequence of a subsequent elevation. The 
plateau developed on the tilted Triassic beds about Bound Brook 
is a second base level, cut during a halt in the rise from the 

Geogra^liiG Methods in Geologic Investigation. 21 

previous lower stand of the land to its present elevation. There 
is a parable that illustrates the principle here presented. 

An antiquary enters a studio and finds a sculptor at work on a 
marble statue. The design is as yet hardly perceptible in tlie 
rough cut block, from which the chisel strikes off large chips at 
every blow ; but on looking closer the antiquary discovers that the 
block itself is an old torso, bi'oken and weather beaten, and at 
once his imagination runs back through its earlier history. 
This is not the first time that the marble has lain on a sculptor's 
table, and suffered the strong blows of the first rough shaping. 
Long ago it was chipped and cut and polished into shape, and 
perhaps even set up in its completed form in some garden, but 
then it was neglected and badly used, thrown over and broken, 
till its perfect shape was lost, and it was sold for nothing more 
than a marble block, to be carved over again if the sculptor sees 
fit. Now it just beginning its second career. We may find 
many parallels to this story in the land about us, when we study 
its history through its form. The sequence of events and conse- 
quently of forms is so apparent here that no one could have 
difficulty in interpreting history from form, and it shall come to 
be the same in geography. The gorge of the Wissahickon 
through the highland northwest of Philadelphia can have no 
other interpretation than one that likens it to the first quick work 
of the sculptor on the old torso. 

An essential as well as an advantage in this extension of the 
study of geography will be the definition of types and terms, 
both chosen in accordance with a rational and if possible a natural 
system of classification. Types and terms are both already in- 
troduced into geographic study, for its very elements present 
them to the beginner in a simple and rather vague way : moun- 
tains are high and rough ; lakes are bodies of standing water, 
and so on. It is to such types and terms as these that every 
scholar must continually return as he reads accounts of the 
world, and it is to be regretted that the types are yet so poorly 
chosen and so imperfectly illustrated, and that the terms are so few 
and so insufiicient. Physical geography is particularly deficient in 
these respects, and needs to be greatly modified in the light of the 
modern advance of topography General accounts of continental 
homologies of course have their interest and their value, but they 
are of the kind that would associate whales with fishes and bats 
with birds. The kind of reform that is needed here may be per- 

22 National Geographic Magazine. 

ceived from that which has overtaken the biological sciences. 
The better teaching of these subjects lays representative forms 
before the student and requires him to examine their parts 
minutely. The importance of the parts is not judged merely by 
their size, but by their signiiicance also. From a real knowledge 
of these few types and their life history it is easy to advance in 
school days or afterwards to a rational understanding of a great 
number of forms. Few students ever go so far in school as to 
study the forests of North America or the fauna of South Amer- 
ica. It is sufficient for them to gain a fair acquaintance with a 
good number of the type forms that make up these totals. It is 
quite time that geography should as far as possible be studied in 
the same way, No school boy can gain a comprehensive idea of 
the structure of a continent until he knows minutely the individ- 
iial parts of which continents are composed, No explorer can 
perceive the full meaning of the countiy he traverses, or record 
his observations so that they can be read intelligently by others 
until he is fully conversant with the features of geographic types 
and with the changes in their exjDression as they grow old. Both 
scholar and explorer should be trained in the examination and de- 
scription of geographic types, not necessarily copies of actual 
places, before attempting to study the physical features of a 
country composed of a large number of geographic individuals. 
When thus prepared, geography will not only serve in geologic 
investigation, it will prosper in its proper field as well. 

Geographic description will become more and more definite as 
the observer has more and better type forms to which he may 
liken those that he finds in his explorations, and the reader, taught 
from the same types, will gather an intelligent appreciation of 
the observer's meaning. Take the region north of Philadelphia 
above referred to. Having grown up upon it, I called it a hilly 
country, in accordance with the geographic lessons of my school 
days, and continued to do so for twenty years or more, until on 
opening niy eyes its real form was perceived. It is a surface 
worn down nearly to a former base level but now diversified by 
ramifying valleys, cut into the old base level in consequence of a 
subsequent but not very ancient elevation of a moderate amount. 
Maturity is not yet reached in the present cycle of develojDment, 
for there is still much of the old base level surface remaining, 
into which the valleys are gnawing their head ravines and thus 
increasing the topographic differentiation. Perhaps not more 

Geogrctphic Methods in Geologic Investigation. 23 

than a sixth of the total mass above present base level is yet con- 
sumed. To say that a country is hilly gives so wide a range to 
the imagination that no correct conception of it can be gained, 
but I venture to think that one who understands the terms used 
can derive a very definite and accurate conception from the state- 
ment that a certain country is an old, almost completed base 
level, raised from one to three hundred feet, and well advanced 
toward maturity in its present cycle of change. 

It is from geographic methods thus conceived that geologic 
investigation will gain assistance. As the subject is properly 
developed it will form an indispensable part of the education of 
every explorer, topographer and geologist ; and in its simpler 
chapters it will penetrate the schools. There is no other subject 
in which there is greater disproportion between the instruction, 
as commonly carried o.n, and the opportunity for application in 
after life. The intelligent part of the world is travelling from 
place to place to an extent that our fathers could not have be- 
lieved ]Dossible, and yet not one person in ten thousand has any 
geographic instruction that enables him to see more than that a 
river is large or small, or that a hill is high or low. The mean- 
ing of geography is as much a sealed book to the person of ordi- 
nary intelligence and education as the meaning of a great cathe- 
dral would be to a backwoodsman, and yet no cathedral can be 
more suggestive of past history in its many architectural forms 
than is the land about us, with its innumerable and marvelously 
significant geographic forms. It makes one grieve to think of the 
opportunity for mental enjoyment that is lost because of the fail- 
ure of education in this respect. 

It may be asked perhaps how can one be trained in geographic 
types, seeing that it is impossible for schools to travel where the 
types occur. This is surely a great and inherent difficulty, but 
it may be lessened if it cannot be overcome. Good illustrations 
are becoming more and more common by means of dry plate pho- 
tography ; maps are improving in number and quality ; but the 
most important means of teaching will be found in models. No 
maps, illustrations or descriptions can give as clear an idea of 
relief as can be obtained from a well-made model, and with a set 
of models, fifty or sixty in number, the more important tj^pes and 
their changes with age can be clearly understood. Maps, illus- 
trations and descriptions supplement the models. The maps 
should be contoured, for in no other way can the quantitative 

24: National Geographic Magazine. 

values be perceived that are essential to good study. The illus- 
trations should he of actual scenes; or, if designs, they should be 
designed by a geographic artist. The descriptions should wher- 
ever possible be taken from original sources, in which the narra- 
tor tells what he saw himself. It is, to be sure, not always possi- 
ble to know what kind of a form he describes, owing to lack of 
technical terms, but many useful examples can be found that may 
then be referred to their proper place in the system of geographic 
classification that is adopted. 

I shall consider only one example in detail to show how far 
short, as it seems to me, geography fails of its great opportunity, 
both as taught in schools and as applied in after life. 

In northeastern Pennsylvania there are several water-falls that 
leap over tilted beds of rock. Such falls are known to be of rare 
occurrence, and we may therefore inquire into the cause of their 
rarity and the significance of their occurrence in the region re- 
ferred to. 

We may first look at the general conditions of the occurrence 
of water-falls. They indicate points of sharply contrasted hard- 
ness in the rocks of the stream channel, and they show that the 
part of the channel above the fall has not yet been cut down to 
base level. When the channel reaches base level there can be no> 
falls. Now it is known from the general history of rivers that 
only a short part of their long lives is spent in cutting their chan- 
nels down to base level, except in the case of headwater streams,, 
which retain youthful characteristics even through the" maturity 
of their main river. Consequently, it is not likely that at any 
one time, as now, in the long lives of our many rivers, we should 
see many of them in their short-lived youthful phase. Falls are 
exceptional and denote immaturity. They endure a little longer 
on horizontal beds, which must be cut back perhaps many miles up 
stream before the fall disappears, than on tilted beds, which must 
be cut down a few thousand feet at most to reduce them to base 
level. Falls on tilted beds are therefore of briefer duration than 
on horizontal beds, and are at any time proportionately rarer. On 
the headwater branches of a river where youthful features such 
as steep slope and sudden fall remain after the main river has a 
well-matured channel, we sometimes find many water-falls, as in 
the still young branches of the old Ohio. These are like young 
twigs on an old tree. But even here the rocks are horizontal, and 
not tilted as in the cases under consideration. 

Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation. 25 

The falls of such headwater sti'eams must persist until the 
plateau is cut away, for the cap rocks over which the streams leap 
being horizontal cannot be smoothed down till the whole plateau 
is cut through. They are long-lived features. Moreover everj'- 
one of the innumerable branch streams must on its way down 
from the uplands fall over the outcropping edges of all the hard 
beds. The falls will therefore be common as well as long-lived 
features. Their frequent occurrence confirms the correctness of 
this generalization. On the other hand, in regions of tilted rocks, 
the hard beds are avoided by the streams, which select the softer 
strata for their valleys. The hard beds soon stand up as ridges 
or divides, across which only the large streams can maintain their 
courses, and these are the very ones that soon cut down any fall 
that may appear in their early stages. Falls on tilted rocks are 
therefore rare not only because of their brief duration, but also 
because tilted rocks are crossed by few streams, except the large 
ones, which soon cut away their falls. 

The foregoing considerations show clearly enough that falls 
like those of northeastern Pennsylvania are rare, and we have 
now to consider why they should be prevalent in the region in 
question. The Appalachians contain many water-gaps cut down 
on tilted beds, every one of which may have been the site of a 
fall for a relatively brief period of river immaturity, but this 
brief period is now left far in the past. The streams show many 
signs of maturity: then- slope is gentle and their valleys are wide 
open from Alabama to Pennsylvania, but in the northeastern 
corner of the latter State we find a group of streams that leap over 
high benches into narrow gorges, and the benches ai"e held up by 
tilted rocks. Manifestly the streams have in some way been 
lately rejuvenated ; they have been, in part of their courses at 
least, thrown back into a condition of immaturity, at a time not 
long past, and, as has so well been shown by White, the cause of 
this is the obstruction of their old channels by irregular deposits 
of glacial drift. Here first in the whole length of the Allegheny 
section of the Appalachians we find an exceptional condition of 
stream life, and here also we come into a region lately glaciated, 
where heaps of drift have thrown the streams out of their old 
tracks. The explanation fits perfectly, and if it had not been 
discovered by inductive observation in the field, the need of it 
might have been demonstrated deductively. It is a case that has 
given me much satisfaction from the promise that it holds out 

26 National Oeographio Magazine. 

of a wide usefulness for geography, when its forms are systemati- 
cally studied and its pi'inciples are broadly applied. 

A final word as to terminology. The material common to ge- 
ography and geology may be included under the name physiogra- 
phy, as used by Huxley. It is, I think, a subject that is destined 
to receive much attention. Physical geography, as ordinarily de- 
fined, does not cover the ground that it might fairly claim. It is 
too largely descriptive and statistical. Geographic evolution, as 
defined by Geikie, is the general preparation of existing geogra- 
phy by geologic jDrocesses. It does not consider the general 
scheme of topographic development or the natural classification 
of geographic forms. 

It is not easy to change the accepted meaning of a term, and I 
would therefore suggest that a new term should be introduced to 
include the classification of geographic forms, as advocated here, 
rather than that any old and accepted term should be stretched 
over a new meaning. As the essential of the study here outlined 
is the systematic relation of form to structure, base level and 
time, the new term might be Systematic Geography. 

The Classification of Geographic Forms hy Genesis. 27 



By W. J. McGee. 

Scientific progress may be measured by advance in the classi- 
fication of phenomena. The. primitive classification is based on 
external appearances, and is a classification by analogies ; a higher 
classification is based on internal as well as external characters, 
and is a classification by homologies ; but the ultimate classifica- 
tion expresses the relations of the phenomena classified to all 
other known phenomena, and is commonly a classification by 

The early geologic classification was based chiefly upon simple 
facts of observation ; but with continued research it is found 
that the processes by which the phenomena were produced may 
be inferred, and, accordingly, that the phenomena may be grouped 
as well by the agencies they represent as by their own character-, 
i sties. Thus the empiric or formal laws of relation give place to 
philosophic or physical laws indicating the casual relations of the 
phenomena, and the final arrangement becomes genetic, or a 
classification by processes rather than products. 

The phenomena of geography and geology are identical, save 
that the latter sciencejncludes the larger series : since the days 
of Lyell the geologist has seen in the existing conditions and 
agencies of the earth a reflection and expression of the conditions 
under which and the agencies by which its development has been 
effected ; the far stretching vista of geologic history is illumi- 
nated only by knowledge of the earth of to-day ; and the stages 
in geologic development are best interpreted in terms of geogra- 
phy. So a genetic classification of geologic phenomena (which 
is rendered possible and intelligible through geographic research) 
will apply equally to geography, whether observational or of the 
more philosophic nature which Davis proposes to call Systematic 
Geography, and which Powell has called Geomorphology. Such 
a classification is here outlined. 

The various processes or movements with which the geologist 
has to deal fall naturally into two principal and antagonistic cate- 
gories and five subordinate categ^ories ; and each category, great 
and small, comprises two classes of antagonistic processes or 

28 National OeograjpJiic Magazine. 

The initial geologic movements (so far as may be inferred 
from the present condition of the earth) were distortions or dis- 
placements of the solid or solidifying terrestrial crust, occurring 
in such manner as to produce irregularities of surface. These 
are the movements involved in mountain growth and in the up- 
heavel of continents. They have been in operation from the 
earliest known eons to the present time, and their tendency is 
ever to deform the geoid and produce irregularity of the terrestrial 
surface. The movements have been called collectively " displace- 
ment" and " diastrophism," but in the present connection they may 
be classed as diastatic, or, in the substantive form, as deforma- 
tion. Recent researches, mainly in this country, have indicated 
that certain diastatic movements are the result of transference of 
sediment — that areas of loading sink, and ai'eas of unloading rise ; 
but it is evident that the transference of sediment is itself due to 
antecedent diastatic movements by which the loaded areas were 
depressed and the unloaded areas elevated; and the entire cate- 
gory may accordingly be divided into antecedent and consequent 
diastatic movements. A partially coincident division may be 
made into epeirogenic, or continent-making movements (so called 
by Gilbert), and orogenic, or mountain-making movements. 
Though there is commonly and perhaps always a horizontal com- 
ponent in diastatic movement, the more easily measured compo- 
nent is vertical, and when referred to a fixed datum [e. g. sea level) 
it is represented by elevation and depression. 

The second great category of geologic processes comprehends 
the erosion and deposition inaugurated by the initial deformation 
of the terrestrial surface. By these processes continents and 
mountains are degraded, and adjacent oceans and lakes lined with 
their debris. They have been in active operation since the dawn 
of geologic time, and the processes individually and combined 
ever tend to restore the geoid by obliterating the relief produced 
by deformation. The general process, which comprises degra- 
dation and deposition, may be called gradation. 

The first subordinate category of movements is allied to the 
first principal category, and comprises, (1) the outflows of lavas, 
the formation of dykes, the extravasation of mineral substances 
in solution, etc., (2) the consequent particle and mass movements 
within the crust of the earth, and (3) the infiltration of minerals 
in solution, sublimation, etc., — in short, the modification of the 
earth's exterior directly and indirectly through particle movements 
induced by the condition of the interior. These processes have 

The Classification of Geographic Forms hy Genesis. 29 

"been in operation throughout geologic time, though they perhaps 
represent a diminishing series ; they have added materially to the 
superficial crust of the earth ; and it is fair to suppose that they 
have modified the geoid not only by additions to the surface but 
by corresponding displacements in their vicinity. The category 
may be tentatively (but rather improperly) called vuloanism, and 
the antagonistic classes of movements constituting it are extra- 
vasation and its antithesis. The vibratory movements of seis- 
mism probably result from both deformation and vulcanism under 
certain conditions. 

The second subordinate category of processes is closely linked 
with all of the others. It comprises the various chemic and 
chemico-mechanical alterations in constitution and structure of 
the materials of the earth's crust. The processes have affected 
the rocks ever since the solidification of the planet, though prob- 
ably in a progressively diminishing degree ; and they have ma- 
terially (but indirectly rather than directly) modified the internal 
constitution and external configuration of the earth. The pro- 
cesses may be collectively called altei-ation; and the antagonistic 
classes into which the category is divisible are lithifactioti and 
decomposition in their various phases, or roek-formation and 

The third subordinate category of processes, viz : glaciation, 
is related to the second principal category ; but since (l) it is, 
probable if not actually demonstrable that under certain circum- 
stances glacial grinding tends to accentuate preexisting irregu- 
larities of surface, and since (2) it is well known that glacial de- 
position sometimes gives great irregularity of surface, it is evi- 
dent that glaciation is not a simple process of gradation, but 
must be clearly distinguished therefrom. A considerable portion 
of the earth's surface has been modified by glaciation during 
later geologic times. The general process compi'ises glacial con- 
struction and glacial destruction. 

There is a fourth subordinate category of processes, which is 
also allied to gradation, viz : wind-action, which may be made to 
include the action of waves and wind-born currents ; but since 
the winds scoop out basins and heap up dunes, while the waves 
excavate submerged purgatories and build bars, it is evident that 
this category, too, must be set apart. The processes are only 
locally important as modifiers of the land surface of the globe. 
They comprise constructive action and destructive action. 

30 National Geographic Magazine. 

There is a final category which is in part allied to alteration 
but is in part unique, viz : the chemic, mechanical, and dynamic 
action of organic life. Ever since the terrestrial crust become so 
stable as to retain a definite record of the stages of world- 
growth, life has existed and by its traces has furnished the ac- 
cepted geologic chronology : at first the organisms were simple 
and lowly, and affected the rocks chemically through their pro- 
cesses of growth and decay, as do the lower plants and animals 
of the present ; later, certain organisms contributed largely of 
their own bodily substance to the growing strata ; and still later, 
the highest organisms, with man at their head, have by dynamic 
action interfered directly with gradation, alteration, and wind- 
action, and thus, perhaps, indirectly with the more deep-seated 
processes of world growth. The vital forces are too varied in 
operation to be conveniently grouped and named. 

These categories comprise the various processes contemplated 
by the geologist, and collectively afford an adequate basis for a 
genetic classification of geologic science. Their relations are 
shown in the accompanying table : 

Classification of Geologic Processes. 
r-^ ^ fl. — Def or- J Antecedent<Epeirogenic ^ 5 ^l^vation 

mation. ^ Consequent>Orogenic. ^ ^Depression. 

3. — Gradation. j Deposition. 

I Degradation. 

f 1. — Vulcanism. j Extravasation. 

(Antithesis of Extra v.) 

2. — Alteration | Lithif action. 

} Decomposition. 

3. — Glaciation. | Glacial construction. 

] Glacial destruction. 

4. — Wind action. \ Wind construction. 

] Wind destruction. 

5. — Vital action. ( Various constructive and 

] destructive processes. 

On applying this classification to geographic forms, the various 
phenomena immediately fall into the same arrangement. The 
continents, great islands, mountain systems, and non-volcanic 
ranges and peaks generally, the oceans, seas, and some bays, gulfs 
and lakes, evidently represent the diastatic category of move- 
ments. These greater geographic features have long been named 

The Classification of Geographic Forms hy Genesis. 31 

and classified empirically, and can be referred to their proper 
places in a genetic taxonomy without change in terminology. The 
volcanoes, craters, calderas, lava fields, tuff fields, tufa crags, 
mesas, volcanic necks, dykes, etc., however modified by degrada- 
tion, alteration, glaciation, or wind action, exhibit characteristic 
forms which have often received names indicative of their origin. 
The glacial di-ift with its various types of surface, the moraines, 
drumlins, kames, roches de moutonnees, rock basins, kettles, lacus- 
tral plains, aqueo-glacial terraces, loess hills and plains, etc., have 
been studied in their morphologic as well as their structural 
aspects, and the elements of the configuration commonly assumed 
have been described, portrayed, and appropriately named ; and 
they take a natural place in the classification of products by the 
processes giving rise to them. The dunes, dust drifts, sand 
ridges, etc., and the wind-scooped basins with which they are 
associated, are local and limited, but are fairly well known and 
fall at once into the geuetic classification of forms and structures. 
But all of these geographic forms are modified, even obliterated, 
by the ever prevailing process of gradation, which has given ori- 
gin to nearly all of the minor and many of the major geographic 
forms of the earth. The forms resulting from this second great 
category of geologic processes have generally engaged the atten- 
tion of systematic students, but their prevalence, variety and 
complexity of relation are such that even yet they stand in great- 
est need of classification. 

Lesley thirty years ago regarded the mountain as the funda- 
mental topographic element; Richthofen recognizes the upland 
and the plain (" aufragendes Land und Flachboden") as the 
primary classes of configuration comprehending all minor elements 
of topography; Dana groups topographic forms as (1) lowlands, 
(2) plateaus and elevated table lands, and (3) mountains ; and 
these related allocations are satisfactory for the purposes for 
which they are employed. But the implied classification in all 
these cases is morphologic rather than genetic, and is based upon 
superficial and ever varying if not fortuitous characters ; and if 
it were extended to the endless variety of forms exhibited in the 
topography of different regions it would only lead to the dis- 
crimination of a meaningless multitude of unrelated topographic 

In an exceedingly simple classification of geographic phenom- 
ena, the primary grouping is into forms of construction dmdifoi'ms 
of destruction ; but it is evident on inspection of the table intro- 

32 National Geographic Magazine. 

duced above that such a classification is objectionable unless tbe 
greater geographic elements due to diastatic movements (in which 
the constructive action is veritable but different in kind from 
those in the other categories) be excluded, and this is impractica- 
L)le without limiting the classification to subordinate phenomena. 
Moreover it is illogical and useless to unite the constructive phe- 
nomena of the remaining categories, since (1) the processes exem- 
plify widely diverse laws, which must find expression in any 
detailed classification whether genetic or not, and since (2) the 
differences between the forms united are much greater than the 
differences between the forms separated in such a classification — 
e. g. the differences between a dune, a drumlin and a mesa (all 
constructive forms) are far greater than the differences between 
a fresh lava sheet and a deeply cut mesa, between a drumlin and 
the smallest drift remnant, or between a dune and a Triassic 
mound of circumdenudation ; and this is true whether the distinc- 
tion be made on analogic, homologic, or genetic grounds. Indeed 
it seems evident that while discrimination of constructive and 
destructive forms is necessary and useful in each genetic cate- 
gory, the use of this distinction as a primary basis of classifi- 
cation is inexpedient. 

The classification of topographic forms proposed a few years 
ago by Davis, who regards " special peculiarities of original 
structure " as a primary, and " degTee of development by erosion " 
a secondary basis, and Riclithofen's arrangement of categories 
of surface forms as (l) tectonic mountains, (2) mountains of 
abrasion, (3) eruptive mountains, (4) mountains of deposition, (5) 
plains, and (6) mountains of erosion,* in addition to depressions of 
the land (Die Hohlformen des Festlandes), are more accept- 
able, since they are based in part on conditions of genesis. But 
it is clearly recognized by modern students of dynamic geol- 
ogy that waterways are the most persistent features of the 
terrestrial surface ; and the most widely applicable systems of 
classification of the surface configuration of the earth thus far 
proposed have been based substantially on the agencies of grada- 
tion. Thus Powell, Lowl and Richthofen classify valleys by the 
conditions of their genesis ; Gilbert classifies drainage ; and 
Phillipson, unduly magnifies the stability and genetic import- 
ance of the water parting, classifies the hydrography through 

* (1) Tektonische Gebirge, (2) Rumpfgebirge oder Abrasionsgebirge, 
(3) Ausbruchsgebirge, (4) Aufschiittungsgebirge, (5) Flacliboden, und 
(6) Erosionsgebirge. 

The Classification of Geographic Forms hy Genesis. 33 

the divides ; and, although these geologists have not dwelt upon 
and perhaps have failed to perceive the relation, the same classi- 
fication is as applicable to every feature of the local relief as to 
the streams by which the relief was developed. 

In a general classification of the topographic forms developed 
through gradation, it would be necessaiy to include the forms 
resulting from deposition as well as degradation, and also to dis- 
cuss the relation of base-level plains to antecedent and consequent 
relief ; but in a brief resume it will suffice to consider only the 
modifications produced by degradation upon a surface of deposi- 
tion after its emergence from beneath water level as a regular or 
irregular terrane ; and the influence of base-level upon the topo- 
graphic forms developed upon such a surface may be neglected in 
a qualitative discussion, though it is quite essential in quantitative 

The hydrography developed upon terranes affected by displace- 
ment both before and after emergence has already been satis- 
factorily classified. Powell, years ago, denominated valleys estab- 
lished pi-evious to displacement of the terrane by faulting or fold- 
ing, antecedent valleys ; valleys having directions depending on 
displacement, consequent valleys ; and valleys originally estab- 
lished upon superior and subsequently transferred to inferior ter- 
ranes, superimposed valleys ; and these valleys were separated 
into orders determined by relation to strike and again into vai'ie- 
ties determined by relation to subordinate attitude of the terranes 
traversed. Gilbert adopted the same gei^eral classification, and 
so extended as to include certain special genetic conditions. 
Tietze, in the course of his investigation of the Sefidrud (or 
Kizil Uzen) and other rivers in the Alburs mountains of Persia, 
independently ascertained the characteristics of the class of water- 
ways comprehended by Powell under the term antecedent ; 
Medlicott and Blanford observed that many of the Himalayan 
rivers are of like genesis ; and Riitimeyer, Peschel and others 
have recognized the same genetic class of waterways ; but none of 
these foreign geologists have discussed their taxonomic relations. 
Lowl, who upon a priori grounds denies the possibility of ante- 
cedent drainage, has recently developed an elaborate taxonomy of 
valleys which he groups as (a) tectonic valleys, and (6) valleys of 
erosion (Erosionsthaler). The first of these categories is separated 
into two classes, viz : valleys of flexure and valleys of fracture, and 
these in turn into several sub-classes determined by character of 
the displacement and its relations to structure ; and the second, 

34 NaUonal Oeograjphic Magazine. 

whose genesis is attributed to retrogressive (rilckwarts fort- 
schreitende " or " rtickschreitende " ) erosion, is vaguely separa- 
ted into several ill-defined classes and sub-classes determined by 
structure, climate, and various other conditions. The second of 
Lowl's categories is also recognized by Phillipson. Still more 
recently, Richthofen, neglecting antecedent drainage, designated 
the superimposed class of Powell epigenetic, and formulated a 
classification of the remaining types of continental depressions 
(Die. Hohlformen des Festlandes) as (a) orographic depressions 
(Landsenken) ; {b) tectonic valleys, and (c) sculptured valleys; and 
the last two categories are separated into classes and sub-classes, 
corresponding fairly with those of Lowl, determined by their 
relations to structure and by various genetic conditions. 

These several classifications have much in common ; their 
differences are largely due to the diversity of the regions in which 
the investigations of their respective authors have been prosecuted; 
but combined they probably comprehend all the topographic 
types which it is necessary to discriminate. 

The American classification and nomenclature, particularly, is 
unobjectionable as applied to montanic hydrography; but it does 
not apply to the perhaps equally extensive drainage systems and 
the resulting topographic configuration developed on emergent 
terranes either {a) without localized displacement or [h) with local- 
ized displacement of less value in determining hydrography than 
the concomitant erosion, terracing and reef building ; neither 
does it apply to the minor hydrography in those regions in which 
the main hydrography is either antecedent or consequent ; nor 
does it apply even to the original condition of the superimposed 
or antecedent drainage of montainous regions. 

Upon terranes emerging without displacement and upon equal 
surfaces not yet invaded by valleys, the streams depend for their 
origin on the convergence of the waters falling upon the uneroded 
surface and affected by its minor inequalities, and for their direc- 
tion upon the inclination of that surface. They are developed 
proximally (or seaward) by simple extension of their courses by 
continued elevation, and distally by the recession of the old and 
the birth of new ravines ; and since in the simple case it follows 
from the law of probabilities that the receding ravine will retain 
approximately the old direction and that the new ravines will de- 
part therefrom at high angles, the drainage systems thus inde- 
pendently developed become intricately but systematically rami- 
fied and more or less dendritic in form. Lowl, Phillipson, Richt- 

The Classification of Geogra/phic Forms hy Genesis. 35 

hof en, and other continental, as well as different British and Indian 
geologists, and Lesley in this country, indeed recognize this type 
of drainage, but they do not correlate it with the montanic types; 
and Lowl's designation, derived from the manner in which he con- 
ceives it to be generated (" rtickschreitende Erosion"), does not 
apply to either the completed drainage, or the coincident topog- 

Although its subordinate phases are not yet discriminated on a 
genetic basis, this type or order of drainage is sufficiently distinct 
and important to be regarded as coordinate with the type repre- 
sented by the entire group of categories recognized by Powell 
and clearly defined by Gilbei't. Such hydrography (which either 
in its natural condition or superimposed characterizes many plains, 
some plateaus, and the sides of large valleys of whatever genesis) 
may be termed autogenoics ; while the drainage systems imposed 
by conditions resulting from displacement (which charactei'ize 
most mountainous regions) may be termed tectonic. Gilbert's 
classification of drainage may then bo so extended as to include 
topography as well as hydrography, and so amplified as to include 
the additional type. 

Drainage systems and the resulting systems of topography (all 
of which belong to the degradational class of forms) are accord- 

Type 1, Autogenous. - 
Type 2, Tectonic— 

Order A, Consequent, upon 

Class a, Displacement before emergence, and 
Class 5, Sudden displacement after emergence; 
Order B, Antecedent ; and 
Order C, Superimposed, through 

Class a, Sedimentation (when the superimposed drain- 
age may be autogenous). 
Class 6, Alluviation or subaerial deposition, and 
Class c, Planation (in which two cases the superim- 
posed drainage may simulate the autogenous 

In brief, the entire domain of geologic science is traversed and 
defined by a genetic classification of the phenomena with which 
the geologist has to deal ; and the same classification is equally 
applicable to geographic forms, as the accompanying table illus- 
trates : 

36 National Geographic Magazine. 

Representative Geographic Forms as classified by Genesis. 

Genetic Processes. 
Category. Class. 




f Deposition 
I Degradation 

' Extravasation 


(Antithesis of do.) 





Wind Action 

Vital Action 


f Glacial construc- 

I Glacial destruc- 
l^ tion 


i^ Wind destruction 
I (Not discriminated) 

Geogbaphic Forms. 

Continents, great islands, most 
mountain ranges, etc., not 
classified in detail. 

Oceans, great seas and bays, 
some inland valleys and lake- 
basins, etc., not classified in 

Newly emerged ocean-bottoms 
(e. g. , portions of the Coastal 
plain), play as and mountain- 
bound deserts, many flood- 
plains, marshes, etc., not 
classified in detail. 

Drainage-systems and result- 
ing topographic elements 
which are — 

1 — Autogenous (not classi- 
fied in detail) ; and 
2 — Tectonic — 
Consequent, upon Displace- 
ment before emergence, 
and Sudden displacement 
after emergence; 
Antecedent; and 
Superimposed, through 
Alluviation, and 

Volcanic peaks, craters, lava- 
fields, tufa-crags, sinter- 
cones, volcanic necks, mesas, 
dykes, some mineral veins, 
etc., not classified in detail. 

Sinks, caverns, some fissures, 
etc. , not classified in detail. 

Minor features of certain topo- 
graphic forms, e. g., reefs, 
crags, pinnacles, salients, 
out-cropping veins, some 
cataracts, etc., not classified 
in detail. 

Minor features of certain topo- 
graphic forms, e. g., pools 
and basins, reentrants, some 
fissures and caverns, etc., 
not classified in detail. 

Drift-plains, moraines of what- 
ever character, drumlins, 
kames. aasar, drift-dammed 
lakes, loss-plains and ridges; 
etc. , not classified in detail. 

Rock-basins. U-caiions, roches 
de moutonnees, etc., not 
here classified in detail. 

Dunes, sand-ridges, bars, spits, 
etc., not here classified in 

Ponds associated with dunes, 
"blow-outs," " purgatories," 
etc., not classified in detail. 

TJie Great Storm of March 11-U, 1888. 37 


A Summary of the remarks made by Brigadier-General A. W. 
Greely, Chief Signal Officer of the Army. 

This storm is by no means as violent as others which have 
occurred, in the eastern part of the United States. It is noted^ 
however, as being one in which an unusual amount of snow fell, 
which, drifted by the high winds caused by the advance of an 
anticyclonic area in rear of the storm depression, did an enormous 
amount of damage to the railways in Massachusetts, southern 
New York, and New Jersey. 

The storm centre was first noticed in the North Pacific on 
March 6th ; whence it passed southeast from the Oregon coast to 
northern Texas by the 9th. The centre instead of maintaining 
the usual elliptical form, gradually shaped itself into an extended 
trough of low pressure, which covered the Mississippi and Ohio 
valleys during the 10th. On the morning of Mai'ch 11th the bar- 
ometer trough extended from Lake Superior southward to the 
eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico ; in the northern section over 
Lake Superior, and the southern part, over Georgia, distinct 
centres, with independent wind circulation, had foi'med. 

The northern storm centre moved northeastward and disap- 
peared, while the southern centre moved slowly eastward, passing 
off the Atlantic coast near Cape Hatteras. The pressure on the 
afternoon of March 1 1th was about 29.07 at the centre of both 
the northern and southern storms, but during the night of the 
11 -12th the pressure decreased in the southern storm centre, and 
the area instead of continuing its easterly direction moved almost 
directly to the north, and on the morning of March 12th was 
central off the New Jersey coast. 

The causes which underlie the decrease of pressure and conse- 
quent increase in the violence of storms are, as yet, undetermined. 
The theory of " surges," that is, atmospheric waves independent of 
the irregular variations consequent on storms, has been urged by 
some, and especially by Abercromby, as the cause of the deepen- 
ing of depressions in some cases or of increasing the pressure in 
other cases. It is possible that un'der this theory a " surge," pass- 
ing over the United States to the eastward, as its trough became 

38 National Geographic Magazine. 

coincident with the centre of low pressure increased its intensity 
or decreased its pressure, and the consequent increase in baro- 
metric gradients added to the violence of the winds. It should 
be pointed out, however, that the very heavy rainfalls from Phil- 
adelphia southward to Wilmington during the 11th, and even the 
heavier ones over the lower valley of the Hudson and in Connec- 
ticut during the 12th, may have exercised a potent influence in 
depi'essing the barometer at the centre of this storm. However 
this may be, it is certain that the storm remained nearly station- 
ary, with steadily decreasing pressure until midnight of March 
12th, at which time it was central between Block Island and 
Wood's HoU, with an unusually low barometer of 28.92 at each 
station. During this day the winds were unusually high along 
the Atlantic coast from Eastport to IsTorfolk ; the maximum 
velocities at the various stations ranging from 48 miles at New 
York City and New Haven to 60 miles at Atlantic City and 70 
miles per hour at Block Island. These winds, though high, are 
not unprecedented, and if they had been accompanied only by 
precipitation in the form of rain, the damage on land would have 
been inconsiderable, but, unfortunately for the commercial inter- 
ests of New York and other neighboring great cities, the passage 
of the low area to the eastward was followed by a cold wave of 
considerable severity and of unusual continuance. 

The northern storm centre, which had passed eastward on the 
11th, had had the usual effect of drawing in a large quantity of 
cold air from British America ; a cold wave following the wake 
of this storm, as is usual during the winter season. This usual 
effect was intensified by the advance of a second, and more vio- 
lent, cyclonic centre northward; the effect of which was to aug- 
ment the cold wave already in progress by drawing in a still 
larger amount of cold air to re-enforce it. 

As has been already alluded to, the quantity of snowfall was 
unusually great. The easterly and northeasterly winds had drawn 
a large amount of aqueous vapor from the Atlantic over New 
England in advance of the low area. The sudden change of tem- 
perature precipitated by far the greater portion of the aqueous 
vapor in the air, with the result of an almost unprecedented fall 
of snow over western Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the valley 
of the Hudson. 

Professor Winslow Upton, Secretary of the New England 
Meteorological Society, has gathered estimates of snow from 420' 

The Great Storm of March 11-U, 1888. 39 

different observers, which go to show that 40 inches or more of 
snow fell over the greater part of the districts named. 

The deepening of the area of low pressure and the augmenta- 
tion of the cold high area advancing from British America 
resulted in barometric gradients of unusual intensity; there be 
ing gradients in excess of 6, when gradients of 5 rarely 
occur either in the United States or Great Britain. The high 
winds caused by these unusual gradients had the effect of drift- 
ing the snow to an unusual extent, so that, as is well known, 
nearly every railroad in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, 
and Massachusetts was snow-bound ; the earliest and most pro- 
longed effects being experienced in Connecticut, which doubtless 
received the full benefit of the heavy snowfall in the Hudson 
River valley in addition to that in the western part of that State. 

It is thought by some that the storm re-curved and passed 
northwest into Connecticut; an opinion in which I cannot concur. 
The international map and reports tend to show that this storm 
passed northeastward and was on the Banks of Nowfoundland on 
the 17th of March. The peculiar shape of the isobars, while the 
storm could be clearly defined from observations at hand, was 
such that it is not unreasonable to believe that the change of wind . 
to the south at Block Island was due simply to an off-shoot of the 
storm from the main centre, in like manner as the storm itself 
was the outgrowth of a previous depression. 

The track of this storm across the sea is left to Professor Hay- 
den. These remarks are necessarily imperfect, as my ofiicial 
duties have been such as to prevent any careful study or examina- 
tion of the storm apart from that possible on the current weather 
maps of the Signal Service. 

40 NaUonal Geographic Magazine. 

THE UNITED STATES, MARCH 11th-14th, 1888. 

By Everett Hayden, 

In charge of the division of Marine Meteorology, Hydrographic Oifice, Navy Dept. 


The history of a great ocean storm cannot be written with 
any completeness until a long interval of time has elapsed, when 
the meteorological observations taken on board hundreds of 
vessels of every nationality, scattered over the broad expanse of 
ocean, and bound, many of them, for far distant ports, can be 
gathered together, compared, and, where observations seem dis- 
cordant, rigidly analyzed and the best data selected. It is only 
when based upon such a foundation that the story can fully 
deserve the title of history, and not romance, fact and not hypo- 
thesis. At best, there must be wide areas where the absence of 
vessels will forever leave some blank pages in this history, while 
elsewhere, along the great highways of ocean traffic, the data are 
absolutely complete. Last August a tropical hurricane of ter- 
rific violence swept in toward our coast from between Bermuda 
and the Bahamas, curved to the northward off Hatteras, and 
continued its destructive course past the Grand Banks toward 
northern Europe; hundreds of reports from masters of vessels 
enabled us accurately to plot its track, a great pai'abolic curve 
tangent to St. Thomas, Hatteras, Cape Race, and the northern 
coast of Norway. Six months later a report forwarded by the 
British Meteorogical Office, from a vessel homeward bound from 
the Equator, indicated that it originated far to the eastward, off 
the coast of Africa, and only the other day the log of a ship 
which arrived at New York, March 30th, from Calcutta, supplied 
data by means of which the storm track can be traced still more 
accurately, westward of the Cape Verde islands. Not only that, 
but this same vessel on the 11th of March was about 500 miles 
to the eastward of Bermuda, and, while the great storm was 
raging between Hatteras and Sandy Hook, was traversing a 
region to the northeastward of Bermuda from which our records 
are as yet very incomplete. It will thus be clearly understood 
that while the most earnest efforts have been made, not only to 


The Great Storm of March H-U, 1888. 41 

collect and utilize all available information, but to be careful and 
cautious in generalizing from the data at hand, yet this study 
must be considered as only preliminary to an exhaustive treatise 
■ based on more complete data than it is now possible to obtain. 

Four charts have been prepared to illustrate the meteorologi- 
cal conditions within the area from 25° to 50° north latitude, 
50° to 85° west longitude, at 1 A. m., Yoth meridian time, March 
Tlth, 12th, 13th and 14th respectively. Data for land stations 
have been taken from the daily weather maps published by the 
U. S. Signal Service, and the set of tri-daily maps covering the 
period of the great storm has been invaluable for reference 
throughout this discussion. Marine data are from reports of 
marine meteorology made to this office by masters of vessels, and 
not only from vessels within the area charted, but from many 
others just beyond its limits. The refined and accurate observa- 
tions taken with standard instruments at the same moment of 
absolute time all over the United States by the skilled observers 
of the Signal Service, together with those contributed to the 
Hydrographic Office by the voluntary co-operation of masters of 
vessels of every nationality, and taken with instruments com- 
pared with standards at the Branch Hydrographic Offices immed- 
iately upon arrival in port, make it safe to say that never have 
the data been so complete and reliable for such a discussion at 
such an early date. 

It will not be out of place briefly to refer to certain principles 
of meteorology that are essential to a clear understanding of 
what follows. The general atmospheric movement in these lati- 
tudes is from west to east, and by far the greater proportion of 
all the areas of low barometer, or centers of more or less per- 
fectly developed wind systems, that traverse the United States, 
move along paths which cross the Great Lakes, and thence reach 
out over the Gulf of St. Lawrence across the Atlantic toward 
Iceland and northern Europe, Another very characteristic storm 
path may also be referred to in this connection, the curved track 
along which West Indian hurricanes travel up the coast. The 
atmospheric movement in the tropics is, generally speaking, west- 
ward, but a hurricane starting on a westward track soon curves off 
to the northwest and north, and then getting into the general east- 
ward trend of the temperate zone, falls into line and moves off to 
the northeast, circling about the western limits of the area of 
high barometer which so persistently overhangs the Azores and a 

42 National. Geographic Magazine. 

great elliptical area to the southwestward. The circulation of 
the wind about these areas of low barometer, and the correspond- 
ing changes of temperature, are indicated graphically on the 
map: the isobars, or lines of equal barometric pressure, are, as a* 
rule, somewhat circular in form, and the winds blow about and 
away from an area of " high " in a direction with the hands of a 
xoatch (in nautical parlance, " with the sun "), toward and about 
" low " with an opposite rotary motion, or against the hands of a 
watch; in front of a " low " there will therefore be, in extra tropi- 
cal latitudes, warm southeasterly winds, and behind it cold north- 
westerly winds, the resulting changes of temperature being shown 
by the isotherms, or lines of equal temperature. Moreover, in a 
cyclonic system of this kind the westerly winds are generally far 
stronger than the easterly winds, the motion of the whole system 
from west to east increasing the apparent force of the former 
and deci-easing that of the latter. Upon reaching the coast, such 
areas of low barometei*, or storm systems, almost invariably 
develop a great increase of energy, largely due to the moisture 
in the atmosphere overhanging the ocean, which, when the air 
is chilled by contact with the cold dry 'air rushing in from the 
"high," is precipitated and becomes visible in the form of clouds, 
with rain or snow. The latent heat liberated by the condensa- 
tion of this aqueous vapor plays a most important part in the 
continuance of the storm's energy and, indeed, in its increase of 
energy: the v/arm light air flowing in towards the central area 
of the storm rises rapidl}'^ into regions where the pressure is less, 
that is, where the thickness and consequently the weight of the 
superincumbent atmosphere is less; it therefore rapidly expands, 
and such expansion would result in a much more rapid cooling, 
and a corresponding decrease in its tendency to rise still higher, 
were it not for the latent heat liberated by the condensation of 
the moisture which it contains. Thus the forces that are con- 
spiring to increase the energy of the storm are powerfully 
assisted by the presence and condensation of aqueous vapor, and 
the increasing updraught and rarefaction are at once marked by 
the decreasing barometric pressure at the center. For example^ 
a storm was central over the Great Lakes on Jan. 25th, with 
lowest barometer 29.7; the following day it was central off Kan- 
tucket, barometer 29.2; and on the SHh and 28th, over the Gulf 
of St. Lawrence, with barometer below 28.6. But such instances 
are so common as to make it the rule, and not the exception. 

The Great Storm of March- 11-U, 1888. 43 

As stated above, the isobars about an area of low barometer are 
somewhat circular in form ; more strictly speaking, they are 
somewhat oval or elliptical in shape, and the more elongated the 
north and south axis of this ellipse, the greater the resulting 
changes of temperature, because, as it moves along its broad 
path toward the Atlantic, the indraught, or suction, is felt in fron\ 
far down toward the tropics, and in rear far to the northward, 
beyond the territorial limits of the United States. 

Similarly with regard to the general movement of areas of 
high barometer, certain laws of motion have been clearly estab- 
lished by means of studies of the daily international chai'ts; 
instead of a motion toward east-northeast, these areas when 
north of the 40th parallel, have in general a motion towards 
east-southeast, and as a rule move more rapidly and with greater 
momentum than " lows," so that they may be said to have the 
right of way, when the tracks of two such systems converge or 
intersect. These laws, or at least that relating to the Great 
Lake storm track, as it may be called, soon become evident to 
anyone who watches the "weather map from day to day, upon 
which are charted the systems of low and high barometer as they 
follow one another across the contment, bringing each its charac- 
teristic weather. 

March 11th, 7 A. M. 

The first of the accompanying weather charts indicates graphi- 
cally the meteorological conditions over the wide area charted, 
comprising about 3,000,000 square miles, of which one-third is 
land and two-thirds water. Over the land there is a long line, or 
trough, of low barometer, extending from the west coast of 
Florida up past the eastern shore of Lake Huron, and far north- 
ward toward the southern limits of Hudson Bay. In front of 
this advancing line the prevailing winds are southeasterly, and 
the warm moist air drawn up from southern latitudes spreads a 
warm wave along the coast, with generally cloudy weather and 
heavy rains, especially south of Hatteras ; the Signal Service 
observer at Pensacola, for example, reports the heavy rain-fall of 
4,05 inches on the 10th, About midway of this trough of low 
barometer there is a long narrow region of light variable winds ; 
of rapid changes in meteorological conditions ; calms, shifts of 
wind, intervals of clearing weather ; then overcast again, with 
cooler and fresh northwesterly winds, increasing to a gale. The 

44 National Geographic Magazine. 

front line of this advancing battalion of cold northwesterly winds 
is more than a thousand miles in length, and covers the whole 
breadth of the United States : its right flank is on the Gulf, its 
left rests on the Great Lakes, or even farther north ; the tempera- 
ture falls rapidly at its approach, with frost far south into Louis- 
iana and Mississippi, and heavy snow in central Kentucky and 
eastern Tennessee, The long swaying line is advancing toward 
the coast at the rate of about 600 miles a day, followed by a 
ridge of high barometer reaching from Texas to Dakota and 
Manitoba. At points along the trough the barometer ranges 
from 29. 70, a hundred miles north of Toronto, to 29.86 at Pitts- 
burg, 29.88 at Augusta, and 29.94 at Cedar Keys. Along the 
ridge the barometer is very high ; 30.7 to the northward about 
Lake Winnipeg, 30.6 in Wyoming, 30 7 in Indian Territory, and 
30.5 south of the Rio Grande. The difference of pressure from 
trough to ridge is thus measured by about an inch of mercury in 
the barometer. Moreover, the chart shows that there is another 
ridge of high barometer in advance, curving down ojffi the coast 
from northern Newfoundland, where the pressure is 30.6, toward 
Santo Domingo, where the pressure is 30.3, and passing midway 
between Hatteras and Bermuda. Farther to the eastward the 
concentric isobars show the presence of a storm which originated 
about Bermuda on the 9th, and is moving off toward Europe 
where, in a few days, it may cause northwesterly gales with snow 
to the northward of its track, and southeasterly gales with rain 
to the southward. Storm reports from various vessels show that 
this storm was of hurricane violence, with heavy squalls and high 
seas, but it need not be referred to in this connection further 
than to say that it sent back a long rolling swell from northeast, 
felt all along the Alantic sea-board the morning of the 11th, and 
quite distinct from that caused by the freshening gale from the 

Meteorological Conditions Off the Coast. 

While this trough of low barometer, with all its attendant 
phenomena, is advancing rapidly eastward toward the Atlantic, 
and the cold wave in its train is spreading over towns, counties 
and states — crossing the Great Lakes, moving up the Ohio valley, 
and extending far south over the Gulf of Mexico— we may pause 
for a moment to consider a factor which is to play a most im- 
portant part in the warfare of the elements so soon to rage with 

The Great Storm of March 11-U, 1888. 45 

destructive violence between Hatteras and Block Island, and 
finally to disturb the weather of the entire North Atlantic north 
of the 20th parallel. 

The great warm ocean current called the Gulf Stream has, to 
most people, a more or less vague, mythical existence. The words 
sound familiar, but the thing itself is only an abstract idea ; it 
lacks reality, for want of any personal experience or knowledge of 
its characteristic effects. To the navigator of the North Atlantic 
it is a reality ; it has a concrete, definite existence ; it is an ele- 
ment which enters into the calculations of his every-day life — 
sometimes as a friend, to help him on his course, sometimes as an 
enemy, to endanger, harass, and delay. Briefly, the warm waters 
of the tropics are carried slowly and steadily westward by the 
broad equatorial drift-current, and banked up in the Caribbean 
Sea and Gulf of Mexico, there to constitute the head or source of 
the Gulf Stream, by which the greater portion is drained off 
through the straits of Florida in a comparatively narrow and 
swiftly moving stream. This great movement goes on unceasingly, 
subject, however, to certain variations which the changing seasons 
bring with them. As the sun advances northward in the spring, 
the southeast trades creep up toward and across the equator, the 
volume of that portion of the equatorial current which is diverted 
to the northward of Cape San Roque is gradually increased, and 
this increase is soon felt far to the westward, in the Yucatan and 
Florida straits. Figures fail utterly to give even an approximate 
idea of the amount of heat thus conveyed from the tropics to the 
north temperate zone by the ceaseless pulsations of this mighty 
engine of oceanic circulation. To put it in some tangible shape 
for the mind to grasp, however, suppose we consider the amount 
of energy, in the form of heat, that would be liberated were this 
great volume of water reduced in temperature to the freezing 
point. Suppose,, again, that we convert the number of heat-units 
thus obtained into units of work, so many foot-pounds, and thence 
ascertain the corresponding horse-power, in order to compare it 
with something with which we are familiar. Considering only 
the portion of the Gulf Stream that flows between Cape Florida 
and the Great Bahama bank, we find from the latest and most 
reliable data, collected by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, 
that the area of cross section is 10.97 square miles (geographic or 
sea miles, of 6,086 feet each) ; mean velocity, at this time of the 
year, 1.305 miles per hour ; mean temperature, 71° F. These 

46 National Geographic Magazine. 

figures for mean velocity and temperature from surface to bottom 
ai'e, it will be noticed, far below those for the surface current 
alone, where the velocity is often as great as five knots an hour, 
and the temperature as high as 80°. The indicated horse-power of 
a great ocean steamship — " La Bourgogne," " Werra," "^Umbria " 
and " City of New York," for example — is from 9,000 to 16,000 ; 
that of some modern vessels of war is still greater ; the " Vulcan," 
now building for the British Government, is 20,000, and the 
" Sardegna," for the Italian Government, 22,800. Again, if we 
convert into its equivalent horse-power the potential energy of 
the 270,000 cubic feet of water per second that rush down the 
rapids of Niagara and make their headlong plunge of 160 feet 
over the American and Horse-shoe falls, we get the enormous 
sum of 5,847,000. The Gulf Stream, however, is every hour 
carrying north through the straits of Florida fourteen and three- 
tenths cubic miles of water (more than three thousand times the 
the volume of Niagara), equivalent, considering the amount of 
heat it contains from 71° to 32° F., to three trillion and sixty 
three hillion horse-power, or more than five hundred thousand 
times as much as all of these combined ; indeed, considering only 
the amount of heat from 71° to 50°, it is still two hundred and 
seventy-five thousand times as great. 

Sweeping northward toward Hatteras with its widening torrent, 
its volume still further increased by new supplies drawn in from 
the Bahamas and the northern coast of Cuba, its color a liquid 
ultramarine like the dark blue of the Mediterranean, or of some 
deep mountain lake, it then spreads northeastward toward the 
Grand banks of Newfoundland, and with decreasing velocity and 
lower temperature gradually merges into the general easterly 
drift that sets toward the shores of Europe about the 40th parallel. 

The cold inshore current must also be considered, because it is 
to great contrasts of temperature that the violence of storms is 
very largely due. East of Newfoundland the Labrador current 
flows southward, and during the spring and summer months 
carries gigantic icebergs and masses of field-ice into the tracks of 
transatlantic steamships. Upon meeting the Gulf Stream, a 
portion of this cold current underruns it, and continues on its 
course at the bottom of the sea ; another portion is deflected to 
the southwest, and flows, counter to the Gulf Stream, along the 
coast as far south as Hatteras. 

The broad features of these great ocean currents have thus 

The Great Storm of March 11-U, 1888. 4Y 

been briefly outlined, and, although they are subject to consider- 
able variation as to temperature, velocity, and limits, in response 
to the varying forces that act upon them, this general view must 
suffice for the present purpose. 

Now to consider for a moment some of the phenomena result- 
ing from the presence and relative positions of these ocean cur- 
rents, so far as such phenomena bear upon the great storm now 
under consideration. With the Pilot Chart of the North Atlantic 
Ocean for March there was issued a Supplement descriptive of 
water-spouts off the Atlantic coast of the United States during 
January and February. Additional interest and importance have 
been given to the facts, there grouped together and published, by 
their evident bearing upon the conditions that gave rise to the 
tremendous increase of violence attendant upon the approach of 
this trough of low barometer toward the coast. In it were given 
descriptions, in greater or less detail, of as many as forty water- 
spouts reported by masters of vessels during these two months, 
at various positions off the coast, from the northern coast of Cuba 
to the Grand banks ; and since that Supplement was published 
many other similar reports have been received. Moreover, it was 
pointed out that the conditions that gave rise to such remarkable 
and dangerous phenomena are due to the interaction between the 
warm moist air overhanging the Gulf stream and the cold dry air 
brought over it by northwesterly winds from the coast, and from 
over the cold inshore current, and the greater the differences of 
temperature and moisture, the greater the resulting energy of 
action. Reports were also quoted showing that the Gulf Stream 
was beginning to re-assert itself after a period of comparative 
quiescence during the winter months, and with increasing strength 
and volume was approaching its northern limits, as the sun moved 
north in declination. 

Such, then, were the meteorological conditions off the coast, 
awaiting the attack of the advance guard of this long line of cold 
northwesterly gales, — conditions still further intensified by the 
freshening gale that sprung up from the southeast at its approach, 
drawing re-enforcements of warm, moist ocean air from far down 
within the tropics. The energy developed when storm systems 
of only ordinary character and severity reach the Atlantic on 
their eastward march toward northern Europe is well-known, and 
need not be referred to further : let us now return to the consid- 
eration of this storm which is advancing toward the coast at the 

48 National Geographic Magazine. 

rate of about 600 miles a day, in the form of a great arched squall 
whose front is more than a thousand miles in length, and which 
is followed, far down the line, by northwesterly gales and tem- 
peratures below the freezing point. 

The Night of the 11th-12th. 

Sunday afternoon, at 3 o'clock, the line of the storm center, or 
trough, extended in a curved line, convex to the east, from Lake 
Ontario down through New York State and Pennsylvania, along 
about the middle of Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk, across North 
Carolina to Point Lookout, and thence down through eastern 
Florida to Key West. Northeasterly, easterly, and southeasterly 
gales were therefore felt all along the coast from the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence to the Florida Keys, excejJt in the bight between Look- 
out and Caiiaveral, where the barometer had already reached and 
passed its lowest point and the wind was northwest, with much 
cooler weather. Reference to the Barometer Diagram shows 
pretty clearly that the trough passed Norfolk a short time before 
it reached Hatteras, where the lowest reading was undoubtedly 
lower, the evening of the 11th, than it was at Norfolk. 

By 10 P. M. the line has advanced as far east as the 74th 
meridian. Telegraphic reports are soon all in from signal stations 
along the coast. The barometer is rising at Hatteras and Nor- 
folk and still falling at Atlantic City, New York, and Block 
Island, but there is little or no indication of the fury of the storm 
off shore along the '74th meridian, from the 30th to the 40th 
parallel, where the cold northwesterly gale is sweeping over the 
great warm ocean current, carrying air at a temperature below the 
freezing point over water above 75° Fahrenheit, and where the 
barometer is falling more and more rapidly, the gale becoming a 
storm, and the storm a hurricane. Nor are there any indications 
that the area of high barometer about Newfoundland is slowing 
down, blocking the advance of the rapidly increasing storm, and' 
about to hold the center of the line in check to the westward of 
Nantucket for days, which seem like weeks, while a terrific north- 
west gale plays havoc along the coast from Montauk Point to 
Hatteras, and until the right flank of the line has swung around 
to the eastward far enough to cut off the supply of warm moist 
air pouring in from the southeast. Long before midnight the 
welcome " good night " message has flashed along the wires to all 
the signal stations from the Atlantic to the Pacific slope, whilst 

The Great Storin of March 11-U, 1888. 49 

at sea, aboard scores of vessels, from the little fisliing-schooner 
and pilot-boat to the great transatlantic liner, a life-or-death 
struggle with the elements is being waged, with heroism none the 
less real because it is in self-defence, and none the less admirable 
because it cannot always avert disaster. 

The accompanying Track Chart gives the tracks of as many 
vessels as can be shown without confusion, and illustrates very 
cleai'ly where data for this discussion are most complete, as well 
as where additional information is specially needed. Thus it is 
here plainly evident that vessels are always most numerous to the 
eastward of New York (along the transatlantic route), and to the 
southward, off the coast. To the southeastward, however, about 
the Bermudas, there is a large area from which comparatively 
few reports have been received, although additional data will 
doubtless be obtained from outward-bound sailing vessels, upon 
their return. Of all the days in the week, Saturday, in particular, 
is the day on which the greatest number of vessels sail from New 
York. The 10th of March, for instance, as many as eight trans- 
atlantic liners got under way. Out in mid-ocean there were 
plowing their way toward our coast, to encounter the storm west 
of the 50th meridian, one steamship bound for Halifax, five for 
Boston, nineteen for New York, one for Philadelphia, one for 
Baltimore, and two for New Orleans. Northward bound, off the 
coast, were six more, not to mention here the many sailing vessels 
engaged in the coasting^or foreign ti'ade, whose sails whiten the 
waters of our coasts. 

Of all the steamships that sailed from New York on the 10th, 
those bound south, with hardly a single exception, encountered 
the storm in all its fury, off the coast. Eastward-bound vessels 
escaped its greatest violence, although all met with strong head 
winds and heavy seas, and, had the storm not delayed between 
Block Island and Nantucket on the 12th and 13th, would have 
been overtaken by it off the Grand banks. Without quoting 
in detail the reports i-eceived, let us see what they indicate 
regarding the general character of the storm during the night, 
preparatory to our consideration of the weather chart for 7 A. M. 
March 12th. To do so, be it remembered, is a very different task 
from that which is involved in the study and comparison of ob- 
servations taken with standard instruments at fixed stations 
ashore. Here our stations are constantly changing their posi- 
tions ; different observers read the instruments at different hours; 

50 National Geograjpliic Magazine. 

the instruments thenaselves vary greatly in quality, and while 
some of them may have been compared with standards very 
recently, there are others whose errors ai-e only approximately 
Icnown. Moreover, when a vessel is pitching and rolling in a 
storm at sea, in imminent danger of foundering, it is, of course, 
impossible to set the vernier of the barometer scale and read oJ0f 
the height of the mercury with very great precision. It will 
thus be readily understood that the many hundreds of observa- 
tions carefully taken and recorded for the Hydrographic Office 
by masters of vessels are necessarily more or less discordant, 
although the results obtained rest on the averages of so many 
reports that the probable error is always very small. An exhaus- 
tive study of reports from vessels at various positions along the 
coast, from the Straits of Florida to Sandy Hook, together with 
the records of the coast stations of the U. S. Signal Service, indi- 
cates a continuous eastward movement of the trough of low bar- 
ometer during the night, accompanied by a rapid deepening of 
the depression. All along the coast we have the same sequence 
of phenomena, in greater or less intensity, according to the lati- 
tude of the vessel, as we noticed here in Washington that Sun- 
day afternoon, when the warm southeasterly wind, with rain, 
died out, and after a short pause a cold northwesterly gale swept 
through the city, piling up the snow in heavy drifts, with trains 
belated or blockaded, and telegraphic communication cut off 
almost entirely with the outer world. It was a wild, stormy 
night ashore, but it was ten-fold more so off the coast, where the 
lights at Hatteras, Currituck, Assateague, Barnegat, and Sandy 
Hook mark the outline of one of the most dangerous coasts the 
navigator has to guard against. To bring the scene vividly 
before the mind would requii'e far more time than I have at my 
disposal, and I can only regret that I cannot quote a few reports 
to give some idea of the violence of the storm. 

By means of a careful comparison of many reports, it is evident 
that although the general trough-like form of the storm remained, 
yet another secondary storm center, and one of very great energy, 
formed off shore, north of Hatteras, as soon as the line had 
passed the coast. It was this center, fully equal to a tropical hur- 
ricane in violence, and rendered still more dangerous by freezing 
weather and blinding snow, which raged with such fury off Sandy 
Hook and Block Island for two days, — days likely to be long mem- 
orable along the coast. Its long continuance was probably due to 

The Great Storm of March 11-U, 1888. 51 

the retardation of the center of the line, in its eastward motion, 
hy the area of high barometer about Newfoundland ; thus this 
storm center delayed between Block Island and Nantucket while 
the northern and southei'n flanks of the line swung around to the 
eastward, the advance of the lower one gradually cutting off the 
supply of warm moist air rushing up from lower latitudes into 
contact with the cold northwesterly gale sweeping down from off 
the coast between Hatteras and Montauk point. So far as the 
ocean is concerned, the 12th of March saw the great storm at its 
maximum, and its wide extent and terrific violence make it one of 
the most severe ever experienced off our coast. 

The deepening of the depression is well illustrated by the fact 
that the lowest reading of the barometer at 7 A. m. was 29.88, at 
Augusta, Ga. ; at 3 p. m., 29.68, at Wilmington, N. C. ; at 11 p. m., 
on board the "Andes," 29.35; and at 7 a. m., the following morn- 
ing it was as low as 29.20, — an average rate of decrease of pressure 
at the center of very nearly .23 in eight hours, and a maximum, 
from reliable observations, of .33. 

March 12th, 13th, and 14th. 

The Weather Chart for 7 a. m., March 12th, shows the line, or 
trough, with isobars closely crowded together southward of Block 
Island, but still of a general elliptical shape, the lower portion of 
the line swinging eastward toward Bermuda, and carrying with 
it violent squalls of rain and hail far below the 35th parallel. 
The high land of Cuba and Santo Domingo prevented its effects 
from reaching the Caribbean Sea, although it was distinctly 
noticed by a vessel south of Cape Maysi, in the Windward chan- 
nel, where there v\^ere three hours of very heavy rain, and a shift 
of wind to N W by N. The isotherm of 32° F. reaches from Cen- 
tral Georgia to the coast below Norfolk, and thence out over the 
Atlantic to a point about one hundred miles south of Block Island, 
and thence due north, inshore of Cape Cod, explaining the fact 
that so little snow, comparatively, fell in Rhode Island and south- 
eastern Massachusetts ; from about Cape Ann it runs eastward to 
Cape Sable, and farther east it is carried southward again by the 
northeasterly winds off the Grand banks. These northeasterly 
winds are part of the cyclonic system shown to the eastward of 
this and the preceding chart ; farther south they become north- 
erly and northwesterly, and it will be noticed that they have now 
carried the isotherm of 70° below the limits of the chart. Thus 

52 National Geographic Magazime. 

this chart shows very clearly the positions of warm and cold 
waves relative to such cyclonic systems: first there is this cool 
wave in rear of the eastern cyclonic system, then a warm wave in 
front of the system advancing from the coast, and finally a cold 
wave of marked intensity following in its train. 

It was probably during the night of the 12th that the lowest 
barometric pressure and the steepest gradients occurred. Although 
several vessels report lower readings, yet a careful consideration 
of all the data at hand indicates that about the lowest reliable 
readings are those taken at 10 p. m. at Wood's Holl, Mass. (28.92), 
Nantucket (28.93), Providence, R. I. (28.98), and Block Island 
(29.00). The steepest barometic gradients, so far as indicated by 
data at hand, are also those that occurred at this time, and are as 
follows, taking Block Island as the initial point and distances in 
nautical miles: at New London, 26 miles, the barometer stood 
29.11, o-iving a difference of pressure in 15 miles of .063 inch ; 
New Haven, 62 miles, 29.36, .087 ; New York, 116 miles, 29.64, 
.083 ; Albany, 126 miles, 29.76, .090. At 7 a. m. the following 
day, very low readings are also reported: New Bedford, Mass., 
28.91, Block Island, 28.92, and Wood's Holl, 28.96. 

The chart for 7 a. m., March 13th, shows a marked decrease in 
the intensity of the storm, although the area over which stormy 
winds ate blowing is still enormous, comprising, as it does, almost 
the entire region charted. From the Great Lakes and northern 
Vermont to the northern coast of Cuba the wind is blowing a 
gale from a direction almost invariably northwest, whilst westerly 
winds and low temperatures have spread over a wide tract of 
ocean south of the 40th parallel. North of this parallel, the pre- 
vailing winds are easterly, the isobars extending in a general 
easterly and westerly direction. At the storm center off Block 
Island the pressure is 28.90, but the gradients are not so steep as 
on the preceding chart, and the severity of the storm, both ashore 
and at sea, has begun to diminish. About this center, too, the 
isobars are noticeably circular in form, showing that, although it 
first formed as an elliptical area, it gradually assumed the charac- 
ter of a true revolving storm, remaining almost stationary between 
Block Island and Nantucket until it had actually "blown itself 
out " while the great storm of which it was a conspicuous but not 
essential part was continuing its eastward progress. The enor- 
mous influx of cold air brought down by the long continued 
northwesterly gale is graphically shown on this chart by the 

The Great Storm of March ll-lJ^, 1888. 53 

large extent and deepening intensity of the blue tint, where the 
temperatures are below the freezing point. From, the northwest- 
ern to the southeastern portion of the chart we find a difference 
in temperature of more than 80° F. (from below -10° to above 
70°); the steepest barometric gradient is found to the northwest 
of Block Island, where the pressure varies 1.80 inches in 750 
miles (gradient, .036 inch in 15 nautical miles), and .66 inch in 
126 miles (Block Island to Albany, N. Y.; gradient, .079). 

On the chart for 7 a. m., March 14th, the depression off Block 
Island has almost filled up, and the stormy winds have died out 
and become light and variable, with occasional snow squalls. The 
other storm center has now regained its ascendency, and is situated 
about two hundred miles southeast from Sable Island, with a 
pressure about 29.3. The great wave of low barometer has over- 
spread the entire western portion of the North Atlantic, with un- 
settled squally weather from, Labrador to the Windward Islands. 
The area of high pressure in advance has moved eastward, to be 
felt over the British Isles from the l7th to the 21st of the month, 
followed by a rapid fall of the barometer as this great atmos- 
pheric disturbance moves along its circuit round the northern 
hemisphere. The isotherm of 32° is still south of Hatteras, 
reaching well out off shore, and thence northward, tangent to 
Cape Cod, as far as central Maine, and thence eastward to St. 
Johns, Newfoundland. Great contrasts of temperature and 
pressure are still indicated, but considerably less marked than on 
the preceding chart, and the normal conditions are being gradu- 
ally restored. 


The great storm that has thus been briefly described, as well as 
can be done from the data now at hand and in the limited time at 
our disposal, has furnished a most striking and instructive exam- 
ple of a somewhat unusual class of storms, and this on such a 
grand scale, and in a part of the world where the data for its study 
are so complete, that it must long remain a memorable instance. 
Instead of a more or less circular area of low barometer at the 
storm center, there is here a great trough of " low " between two 
ridges of " high," the whole system moving rapidly eastward, and 
including "within the arc of its majestic sweep," almost the entire 
width of the temperate zone. The " trough phenomena," as an 
eminent meteorologist has called the violent squalls, with shifts 

54 National Geographic Magazine. 

of wind and change of conditions at about the time of lowest 
barometer, are here illustrated most impressively. Such' changes 
are, of course, to be expected and guarded against in every storm, 
and sailors have long ago summed them up, to store away in 
memory for practical use when occasion demands, in the well- 
known lines, — 

"First rise after low 
Indicates a stronger blow." 

One thing to which attention is particularly called is the fact 
that storms of only ordinary severity are likely, upon reaching 
the coast, to develop greatly increased energy. As has been 
already pointed out, there can be no doubt but that this is espe- 
cially so in a storm of this kind, where the isobars are elongated 
in a north and south direction. The accompanying Barometer 
Diagram, if studied in connection with the Track Chart and the 
Weather Chart for March 11th, illustrates very clearly this 
deepening of the depression at the storm center. The formation 
and persistency off Block Island of a secondary storm center of 
such energy as was developed in this case, however, it would 
seem wholly impossible to have foretold, and a prediction to that 
effect made under similar circumstances would probably prove 
wron^ in at least nine cases out of ten. But it maj^ be safely 
said that the establishment of telegraphic signal stations at out- 
lying points off the coast is a matter of great importance, not 
only to our extensive shipping interests, but to the people of all 
our great seaboard cities as well. To the northward, telegraphic 
reports from such stations would furnish data by which to watch 
the movement of areas of high barometer, upon which that of 
the succeeding " low " so largely depends; and to the southward,, 
to give warning of the approach and progress of the terrific hur- 
ricanes which, summer after summer, bring devastation and 
destruction along our Gulf and Atlantic coasts, and of which 
this great storm is an approximate example and a timely remin- 
der. In this connection, also, there is another important result 
to be gained : scientific research and practical inventive genius, 
advancing hand in hand for the benefit of mankind, have dis- 
covered not only the laws govei'ning the formation of the dense 
banks of fog that have made the Grand Banks dreaded by 
navigators but also the means by which certain facts may be 
observed, telegraphed, charted, and studied a thousand miles 
away, and the occurrence of fog predicted with almost iinfailing 

The Great Storm of March 11-U, 1888. 55 

accuracy, even whilst the very elements themselves are only pre- 
paring for its formation. By means of such predictions, the 
safety of navigation along the greatest highway of ocean traffic 
in the world would be vastly increased, — routes ti*aversed yearly 
at almost railway speed by vessels intrusted with more than a 
million human lives, and property of an aggregate value of fully 
a billion dollars. What is everybody's business is too often 
nobody's business, and if no single nation is going to undertake • 
this work, an international congress should be formed to do so, 
with full authority to act and power to enforce its decisions. 

Probably nothing will more forcibly attract the attention of 
the practical navigator than the new and striking illustrations 
which have been furnished by reports from various masters of 
vessels, caught in the tei'rific winds and violent cross seas of this 
great storm, relative to the use of oil to prevent heavy broken 
seas from coming on board. Although this property of oil has 
been known from time immemorial, it has only recently come 
into general use, and it is good cause for congratulation, con- 
sidering the great benefits to be so easily and so cheaply gained, 
that the U. S. Hydrographic Office is acknowledged to have 
taken the lead in the revival of knowledge regarding it, and in 
its practical use at sea. It is difficult to select one from among 
the many reports at hand, but the following brief extract from 
the report made by boat-keeper Robinson, in behalf of the pilots 
of New York pilot-boat No. 3 (the "Charles H. Marshall"), can- 
not fail to be read with interest. The gallant and successful 
struggle made by the crew of this little vessel for two long days 
and nights against such terrific odds is one of the most thrilling 
incidents of the storm, and well illustrates the dangers to which 
these hardy men are constantly exposed. 

The " Charles H. Marshall " was off Barnegat the forenoon of 
the 11th, and, as the weather looked threatening, two more reefs 
were put in the sails and she was headed to the north-<^ard, in- 
tending to run into port for shelter. During the afternoon the 
breeze increased to a strong, gale, and sail was rjduced still 
further. When about 18 miles S.E. from the lightship, a dense 
fog shut in, and it was decided to remain outsi le and ride out 
the storm. The wind hauled to the eastward tjward midnight, 
and at 3 a. m. it looked so threatening: in the ?kW. that a fourth 
reef was taken in the mainsail and. the f oresr il was treble-reefed. 
In half an hour the wind died out completely, and the vessel lay 

56 National Geograjjhic Magazine. 

in the trough of a heavy S.E. sea, that was threatening every 
moment to engulf her. She was then about 12 miles E.S.E. from 
Sandy Hook lightship, and in twenty minutes the gale struck 
her with such force from N.W. that she was thrown on her 
beam ends; she instantly righted again, however, but in two 
hours Avas so covered with ice that she looked like a small ice- 
berg. By 8 A. M. the wind had increased to a hurricane, the 
little vessel pitching and tossing in a terrific cross-sea, and only 
by the iinited efforts of the entire crew was it possible to 
partially lower and lash down the foresail and fore-staysail. No 
one but those on board can realize the danger she was in fi'om 
the huge breaking seas that rolled down upon her; the snow and 
rain came with such force that it was impossible to look to wind- 
ward, and the vessel was lying broadside to wind and sea. A 
drag was rigged with a heavy log, anchor, and hawser, to keep 
her head to sea and break the force of the waves, but it had 
little effect, and it was evident that something must be done to 
save the vessel. Three oil bags were made of duck, half filled 
with oakum saturated with oil, and hung over the side forward, 
amidships, and on the weather quarter. It is admitted that this 
is all that saved the boat and the lives of all on board, for the 
oil prevented the seas from breaking, and they swept past as 
heavy rolling swells. Another drag was rigged and launched, 
although not without great exertion and danger, and this helped 
a little. Heavy iron bolts had to be put in the oil bags to keep 
them in the water, and there the little vessel lay, fighting for 
life against the storm, refilling the oil bags every half hour, and 
fearing every instant that some passing vessel would I'un her 
down, as it was impossible to see a hundred feet in any direction. 
The boat looked like a wreck; she was covered with ice and it 
seemed impossible for her to remain afloat until daylight. The 
oil bags were replenished every half hour during the night, all 
hands i-^king turn about to go on deck and fill them, crawling 
along the deck on hands and knees and secured with a rope in 
case of beinv>- washed overboard. Just before midnight a heavy 
sea struck the boat and sent her over on her side; everything 
movable was ti vown to leeward, and the water rushed down the 
forward hatch. But again she righted, and the fight went on. 
The morning of 13th, it was still blowing with hurricane 
force, the wind shri -iking past in terrific squalls. It cleared up 
a little towards evening, and she wore around to head to the 

The Great Storm of March 11-U, 1888. 57 

northward and eastward, but not without having her deck swept 
by a heavy sea. It moderated and cleared up the next day, and 
after five hours of hard work the vessel was cleared of ice, and 
sail set for home. She had been driven 100 miles before the 
storm, fighting every inch of the way, her crew without a chance 
to sleep, frost-bitten, clothes drenched and no dry ones to put on, 
food and fuel giving out, but they brought her into port without 
the loss of a spar or a sail, and she took her station on the bar 
as usual. 

Do the pages of history contain the record of a more gallant 
fight ! Nothing could show more graphically than this brief 
report, the violence and long duration of the storm. No wonder 
that this terrific northwest gale drove the ocean itself before it, 
so that the very tides did not resume their normal heights for 
nearly a week at certain ports along the coast, and the Gulf 
Stream itself Avas far south of its usual limits. The damage and 
destruction wrought ashore are too fresh in mind to be referred 
to here, and losses along the coast can only be mentioned briefly. 
Below Hatteras there was little damage done to shipping. In 
Chesapeake Bay, 2 barks, 77 schooners, and 17 sloops were blown 
ashore, sunk, or damaged; in Delaware Bay, 37 vessels; along 
the New Jersey coast and in the Horse-shoe at Sandy Hook, 13; 
in New York harbor and along the Long Island coast, 20; and 
along the New England coast, 9. The names of six vessels that 
were abandoned at sea have been reported, and there are at least 
nine others missing, among them the lamented New York pilot 
boats " Phantom " and " Enchantress," and the yacht " Cythera." 
Several of these abandoned vessels have taken their places 
amongst the derelicts whose positions and erratic tracks are 
plotted each month on the Pilot Chart, that other vessels may be 
warned of the danger of collision; the sch. "W. L. White," for 
instance, started off to the eastward in the Gulf Stream, and 
will soon become a source of anxiety to the captains of steam- 
ships along the transatlantic route, and furnish a brief sensation 
to the passengers when she is sighted. There is thus an in- 
tensely human side to the history of a great ocean storm, and to 
one who reads these brief records 'of facts and at the same time 
gives some little play to his imagination, there is a very pathetic 
side to the picture. In the words of Longfellow, — 

58 National Geographic Magazine. 

" I see the patient mother read, 
With aching heart, of wrecks that float 
Disabled on those seas remote, 
Or of some great heroic deed 
On battle fields, where thousands bleed 
To lift one hero into fame. 
Anxious she bends her graceful head 
Above these chronicles of pain, 
And trembles with a secret dread 
Lest there, among the drowned or slain, 
She find the one beloved name." 



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The Survey of the Coast. 59 


By Herbert G. Ogden. 

At the inception of the Coast and Geodetic Survey in the early 
years of the century, so little was known of the dangers attend- 
ing navigation along our extensive seaboard, that those who 
engaged in commercial enterpiises were constrained to rely upon 
local knowledge and the reports of the hardy navigators who 
might carry their ventures to success. The charts available were 
by no means a sure reliance, and it has since been shown, con- 
tained many sei'ious errors. The great headlands and outlying- 
shoals that present the greatest obstacles to the safety of coast- 
wise navigation, had not been carefully surveyed, and their rela- 
tive positions to one another were only approximately determined. 

The capacities of the harbors had not been ascertained, many 
were unknown ; and even at the great port of New York, the 
Oedney or Main channel, was not developed until after the per- 
manent establishment of the Survey in 1832, and the thorough 
exploration of the entrance was undertaken. A list of the sunken 
dangers and new channels that have been discovered during the 
progress of the work would fill pages. It is true such develop- 
ments were to be expected in making a precise survey of the 
comparatively uncharted coast ; but they, nevertheless, clearly 
point to the necessity of the work. We may also assume that 
the men who were controlling the destinies of the republic, real- 
ized that a knowledge of the coast was essential if they would 
succeed in building up a commerce, without which it was believed 
the prosperity of the people could not be assured. The deep 
draught vessels of the present day could not have traded along 
our shores on any margin of safety with the little that was 
known, and it is largely due to the perfect charting of the coast, 
that commercial enterprise has found it practicable to build the 
larger vessels of modern type to meet the increasing demands of 

The survey proposed was also required in providing for the 
public defence ; as it is a self-evident proposition, that if we 
would protect a harbor from a hostile fleet, we must know not 

60 National Geographic Magazine. 

only the channels by which the fleet might enter, but their rela- 
tions to each other and the points of vantage that should be 
utilized in obstructing them ; and in modern warfare to know 
these things only approximately will not suffice, for precision is 
practiced now in the art of war, as well as in the arts of peace. 

The lack of charts of our extensive Coast line, or indeed, of 
any practical information that could be utilized in a systematic 
defence against foreign aggression, was only one of the many 
perplexities that surrounded our forefathers in building the 
nation. By their valor they had wrested a jewel from the British 
Crown, and had inaugurated a system of government by the 
people, which on their sacred honors they had sworn to defend. 
But not a generation had passed away when they saw new dan- 
gers, and were forced to contemplate again taking up arms in 
defence of their rights. The land was theirs, even far towards 
the setting sun, pioneers had explored it, and they knew whence 
might come a hostile foe. But of the waters from far away to 
the eastward, that flowed on until they washed every shore and 
filled the great Bays, even to the heart of the Republic, they 
knew little, save that over that almost immeasurable expanse 
might come the fleet of destroyers to penetrate they knew not 
where, and inflict incalculable damage months ere the dreary 
tales might be told. It must be remembered there were no tele- 
graphs, no railroads, no steamboats, in those days, and time taken 
by the forelock was time gained. The speed of man could not 
be overtaken as we see it to-day in the wondrous inventions of 
the last generations. Each community was dependent upon it- 
self, alone, in time of danger, to ward off the blow or yield to a 
more powerful foe ; assistance could hardly be obtained in months 
and perhaps not then. It was not possible for any man to study 
or to learn the j^oints of danger, and prepare a system of defence. 

President Jefferson in his far-seeing statesmanship, threatened 
with war, realized the danger. A survey of the coast he believed 
essential to the national defence, and to the prosperity of the 
nation in time of peace. Had his wise counsels prevailed and the 
survey been prosecuted with vigor, instead of being almost imme- 
diately suspended for a quarter of a century, thei'e can be no 
question but that it would have saved the people millions of dol- 
lars in expenditures and put other untold millions into their cof- 
fers, through the impetus it would have given to commerce years 
before commerce actually had a name in many that are now 
thriving seaport towns. 

The Survey of the Coast. 61 

But it is not to be supposed the commercial importance of a 
knowledge of the coast and harbors was underrated because the 
Survey was not prosecuted. The people were poor, the task 
would be expensive and laborious. The appliances for the work 
were not in the possession of the Government, and above all, war 
came came sooner than was anticipated and the energies of the 
people were taxed to the utmost in combat with their powerful 
foe ; and when peace came again, there was the inevitable com- 
mercial depression that follows a resort to arms. The men of the 
day fully realized how illy they were prepared to invite com- 
merce to our shores, or incite our own people to more extensive 
trade. There was nothing to adequately represent those mag- 
nificent harbors that have since become famous the world over ; 
nor of that long line of coast with its treacherous shoals, whereby 
those seeking new ventures might judge of the dangers to be 
encountered. The absolute ignorance that existed was aptly 
described in the Albany Argus in 1832, when the propriety of 
reviving the act of ISO? was under discussion, as follows : 

" It had been discovered by an American statesman that parent 
countries always keep the commercial knowledge of their colo- 
nies as a leading-string in their own hands, and that as practical 
navigators, American seamen knew less of their own shores than 
the country and its allies from whose subjection we had recently 
delivered ourselves by force of arms. In large vessels, three 
nations, the Dutch, the French, and the English, approached our 
harbors with less risk than those bearing our own flag ; at the 
same time that in small and more manageable vessels, we had 
long been known as a match for the strongest. The president, 
Jefferson, saw the defect and the manner in which it must be 
remedied. We were at that time on the brink of war, about 
whose justice some of our politicians differed in opinion and it 
was, of course, more necessary to pray for a fortunate result than 
to preach the causes which had occasioned the quarrel. To have 
procured for the nation (even had it been practicable so to do) 
the old charts from the Dutch, French, and English govei'n- 
ments, would have only been to put our knowledge on a par with 
theirs, while to execute more recent and accurate surveys, was 
advancing the new country above the old. With the clear and 
bold perception, which always distinguishes men of genius when 
they are entrusted in times of danger with the destinies of a 
nation, the president recommended a survey of the whole coast 
with all the aid of the more recent discoveries of science." 

62 National Geograjyhic Magazine. 

The proposed survey was strongly advocated by President Jef- 
ferson, and the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Gallatin, and in 
February, 1807, Congress passed the first act providing for the 
work. Thirteen separate plans, or schemes, were submitted for 
consideration ; among the number was one by Professor F, R. 
Hassler, which was finally adopted, and Professor Hassler was 
appointed the first superintendent. It is not necessary to dwell, 
in detail, upon the varying fortunes of the survey during the 
three-quarters of a century that have passed since the original 
act authorizing it. The first thirty years of experiment, before 
it was finally established as a bureau of the Treasury Department, 
show only too clearly the ignorance and prejudice against which 
the supporters — we may say founders — of the survey had to con- 
tend. But they had only the experience of all men who attempt 
the inauguration of new things of which it cannot be shown that 
they will return a cash profit at the end of six months. To the 
opponents of the measure cash could not be seen at all, and the 
profit, whatever it should be, was only an intangible kind of ben- 
efit to be realized in the future by additional security to their 
property and commerce ; but, in reality, as has since been appre- 
ciated, the direct saving of many millions of dollars annually. 

The war of 1812 interrupted Professor Hassler's labors and it 
was not until 1817 that he actually commenced work; but he 
was stopped the next year by a limitation of the law requiring 
the work to be performed by the Military Departments. In 1832 
Congress passed a special act reviving the law of 1807 and Pro- 
fessor Hassler was again appointed Superintendent. A further 
interruption occurred in .1834 by the transfer of the bureau to 
the Navy Department, but this was of short duration, as it was 
re-transferred to the Treasury Dej)artment in 1836, where it has 
since remained. Professor Hassler continiied as Superintendent 
until his death in November, 1 843. He was succeeded by Professor 
A. D. Bache, who was fortunate in assuming the charge under 
much more favorable auspices than had prevailed under his 

By the appropriation bill passed in March, 184 3, the President 
was directed to appoint a Commission to reorganize the Bureau 
and prescribe methods for its future conduct. The plan recom- 
mended by the Commission was substantially that which had 
been followed by Professor Hassler. It was approved by the 
President a few months before Professor Bache assumed the 

The Survey of the Coast. 63 

superintendency and has since been the law for the execution of 
the work. To have a law specifying in detail the methods that 
should be employed in prosecuting the surveys, that had been 
drawn by a special commission of experts and approved by the 
administration, relieved the Superintendent of much of the re- 
sponsibility that had been borne by Professor Hassler, although 
it did not put an end to the carpings of the critics, or their ad- 
vocacy of the less expensive "nautical surveys." 

The reorganization provided for the employment of civilians 
and officers of the Army and Navy to serve directly under in- 
structions from the Superintendent ; thus securing for the service 
the opportunity to procure the best talent from either civil or 
military life. The civil element, it was assumed, would form a 
body of experts for the prosecution of those branches of the 
work not properly falling in the direct line of the military, and 
experience has demonstrated that while the results anticipated 
have been fully realized, the organization has not only proved 
effective but conducive to the advancement of the survey in 
many ways. The Civil War was a serious interruption, but alone, 
proved the wisdom of the civil organization of the Bureau, On 
the outbreak of hostilities the military element was necessarily 
withdrawn for duty with the Army and Navy ; and it was not 
until ten years after the close of the war that officers of the 
Navy were again available, while officers of the Army, through 
the exigencies of the Military service, have not returned at all. 

The organization was preserved through these fifteen years by 
the permanent civil nucleus, and the work suffered no deteriora- 
tion, but steadily advanced, notwithstanding that the larger num- 
ber of the civilians were constantly employed during the four 
years of the war with the Armies and Navy, in different capaci- 
ties on the staffs of commanding officers ; and that the urgent 
necessities of the government devolved additional labor, and 
temporarily, a new class of work upon the office force in compil- 
ing, draughting and publishing maps of the interior for the use 
of the Armies in the field. And when finally, our Armies were 
disbanded and our fleets reduced to a peace basis, and officers of 
the Navy resumed the execution of the Hydrographic work, it 
was but to step into the duties of their predecessors ; they had, 
too, the additional advantage of the fifteen years' experience of 
the purely civil administration of the Survey, during which time 
the trained surveyors of the land had become equally expert as 

64 National Geographic Magazine. 

surveyors of the water, and had added not a little to the im- 
provement of Hydrographic methods. The History of the Sur- 
vey shows a steady advance in methods of work from its foun- 
dation to the present day. But so equally has the march of 
improvement been due to the zeal and untiring efforts of the 
civilians and officers of the Army and Navy alike, that any dis- 
tinction would be invidious. 

The plan of reorganization of 1843 provided for a detailed 
survey of precision. It was to be based on an exact triangula- 
tion that would insure positive results, that the location of a 
danger or the development of a new channel, should be beyond 
doubt ; and that the survey, when completed, should fit together 
as one continuous line, in which the distance and direction of any 
object on the map from any other object should be true, whether 
the objects were in hailing distance of one another, or at the ex- 
tremes of our boundaries. So well was the scheme conceived, so 
perfect has it proved in operation, that it is substantially the 
guide for the closing labors of the great work, notwithstanding 
the many improvements that experience has wrought in the 

Those engaged upon the Survey have been quick to profit by 
experience, and the master mind of Professor Bache, the second 
Superintendent, was not slow to adopt that which promised in- 
creased economy, rapidity or improvement. He drew from all 
sources. Science contributed her quota and the great inventive 
genius of the American people played an equal share in producing 
the final results. 

The researches that were necessary to obtain the information 
required by law " for completing an accurate chart of every part 
of the coasts," have produced results of great economic and 
scientific value to the whole people, aside from their bearing on 
the interests of commerce and navigation ; and which will con- 
tribute to the welfare of mankind long years after those who 
labored for them have passed away. A brief reference to a few 
of the many instances that might be cited to illustrate this per- 
petual influence to benefit our fellow men, may not be without 
interest to some of you present. 

The application of the method of determining latitude by the 
measurement of small zenith distances, introduced by Captain 
Andrew Talcott of the Engineer Corps, U. S. A., while serving 
as an Assistant on the Survey, developed such radical errors in 

The 8u7'vey of the Coast. 65 

the star places given in the catalogues, that it led to an almost 
immediate call for better places, and arrangements were made 
with the observatories of the countr}- to obtain the necessary ob- 
servations, the Survey to pay for the labor involved. Stimulated 
by the knowledge that better work was required to meet the new 
demand, observatories deficient in instruments procured ncAV 
ones, and soon furnished more accurate star places. Continued 
observation has added still further improvement until to-day we 
have catalogues that furnish the highest degree of precision. 
Professor Chauvenet defines " Talcott's method " as " one of the 
most valuable improvements in practical astronomj'^ of recent 
years, surpassing all previous known methods (not excepting that 
of Bessel by prime vertical transits) both in simplicity and 
accuracy." But the advantages of the method have been found 
to be of a practical nature also ; as it is productive of large 
economy in time and labor and has reduced the cost of the Sur- 
vey many thousands of dollars. 

The introduction of the Electric Telegraph was utilized by the 
Survey immediately on the practical accomplishment of the first 
line built, as a ready and improved means for determining longi- 
tude. Indeed, before Professor Morse had demonstrated to the 
world the truthfulness of his theories and experiments, the bare 
possibility of their success, and availability in the instant trans- 
mission of time, had been discussed on the Coast Survey, and the 
method to be first employed fully considered. But as in the 
application of all things under new conditions, experience is the 
teacher, and improvements were frequently made, until finally 
the invention and perfection of the " chronograph " has brought 
the method to a degree of precision that little more can be 
looked for. This method of determining longitude, introduced, 
fostered and perfected on the Coast Survej^, has been more far 
reaching than geographical boundaries. All civilized nations have 
adopted it as the "American Method," and by the greater ac- 
curacy and reliability of the results the whole world has profited. 
The saving that has accrued by the more perfect determination 
of longitudes and the consequent increased safety to commerce, 
may be counted by millions every year ; until one stands aghast 
in contemplation of the immensity of the sum, and fears to 
reckon it, even approximately, much less to prophecy what it 
may reach in the future. The system is but a natural sequence 
of the development of the telegraph, but emphasizes in a marked 

66 National Geographic Magazine. 

diegree the spirit of progress that has ever been the active prin- 
ciple and guide in the conduct of the work, and advanced its 
methods to a state of perfection that has called forth the admira- 
tion of the scientific world. 

The determination of the magnetic elements has been a sub- 
ject of investigation from the early days of the survey ; the 
knowledge sought was essential to the navigator, and in recent 
years, especially, has proved to be of the greatest practical value 
on shore. Limited by small appropriations the research was at 
first slow. But a trust fund left by Professor Bache, who 
always evinced the warmest interest in this particular investiga- 
tion, added largely to the rapidity with which observations could 
be obtained, until now we have magnetic maps of the United 
States of such reasonable precision that they are authoritative, 
and are in almost daily demand. The results are more far reach- 
ing than their mere tabulation for the current year, as laws have 
been determined by which the declination in a locality can be 
ascertained for any year in the past. 

There are but few places where the needle remains stationary, 
or points in the same direction, for any great length of time ; it 
even changes daily and during the hours of a day ; but the 
aggregate for a year will rarely exceed three or four minutes of 
arc. If we refiect then, upon the great use made of the compass^ 
in the settlement of the continent, and the proverbial neglect of 
the country surveyor of those days to record the local variation, 
or declination, with his work, we may see a little of the utility 
and practical purposes to which the results are constantly being 
applied. Property so little thought of a hundred years ago tliat 
a few acres more or less, lost or acquired, in its transfer defined 
by compass surveys, may suddenly assume a value in these days 
of progress that every square foot is worth dollars. When a 
dispute arises, deeds are examined, lost or obliterated mai'ks are 
diligently sought for, perhaps one is found, surveyors are em- 
ployed to run out the lines but only make the confusion worse. 
Instead of a few rods that were in doubt according to the best 
information, the surveyor's line makes it acres, and litigation, 
looms up to eat the profits of the sudden rise, and there seems 
even then no satisfactory solution of the vexing problem. How 
valuable then must be the fact, that it is possible to compute the 
variation for years back, to the time the oi'iginal survey was 
made, and furnish the deflection that will re-run the lines so 

The Survey of the Coast. 6Y 

clearly as to render the descriptions in the deed intelligible. 
This is but a single instance of the practical application of the 
knowledge gained ; and if its general usefulness may be judged 
by the numerous inquiries made of the Bureau, it is not unreason- 
able to assume that time will bear increasing testimony of its great 
economic value from those who traverse the land, as well as those 
who sail on the waters. 

The study of the recurrence of the tides along our extensive 
Coast lines, and determination of laws that would satisfy the 
great variance in the different periods, was a problem of no little 
magnitude but the greatest possible importance to our commerce. 
Much of the traffic along the coasts literally moves with the 
tides, and the cost of transportation is enhanced or diminished 
as the tide retards or advances it. Hundi'eds of dollars of ex- 
pense may be incurred on a single cargo that must enter on the 
high water, but through imperfect knowledge of the master of 
the ship, is forced after sighting his port, to wait for the next tide, 
perhaps over night, and is driven to sea by a sudden storm and 
the voyage made several days longer. Such mishaps are not 
infrequent, and even at the great port of New York certain 
classes of vessels must "wait for the tide." The investigation of 
this complex subject has resulted in the acquirement of a knowl- 
edge that enables the prediction of the time of high and low 
water, and the height of the tidal wave, years in advance ; and the 
mariner may now carry veith him the tables published on the sub- 
ject wherever he goes, and be independant of the doubtful com- 
munications he may otherwise receive from the shore. How many 
lives, how many dollars, have been saved by the knowledge 
gained ? 

But the investigation of the Tidal phenomena is of great sci- 
entific importance also ; and a practical assistance in the great 
problems involved in the preservation and improvement of our 
harbors, but in this connection it probably falls more properly 
under the head of that greater study of the currents and their 
effects in the erosion, and building of the shores ; the movement 
of the sands and formation of shoals and channels; termed " Physi- 
cal Hydrography." Our commerce depends largely on this study 
for its pex'petuation, for without harbors commerce must cease ; 
and without harbors that will admit vessels of the largest class it 
must deteriorate. If commerce ■ finds increased profits in large 
vessels it demands increased facilities, and the bars to the har- 

68 National GeographiG Magazine. 

bors with but six or eight feet of water on them a few years ago, 
must have ten, perhaps fifteen feet now, or the people must 
suffer their trade to pass to some more fortunate or energetic 
Tieighbor. This may be a hardship ; but the demands of trade 
are inexorable, the profits must be reasonably assured, and those 
who would have the trade must comply with the requirements. 
Thus we see the striving for harbor improvements ; the weakest 
making the greatest outcry that they shall not be left in the race. 
And the improvements must come in the end, or at least be at- 
tempted, for it is as much a law of commerce not to be hampered 
by small freights, as it is the law of nature that water flows 
down hill. 

The outcry for "improvements" never grows weaker; it is the 
expression of a sincere conviction that the life of the community 
and the welfare of the " back country " depend upon its success 
for prosperity; it will not admit a rebuff and knows no such 
word as failure. Alleged authorities are consulted, a scheme of 
improvement is proposed and Congress is asked to vote the 
money, and finally the improvements are attempted. To be suc- 
cessful, the plan must conform to known general laws and the 
peculiarities of local conditions, many of which are only ascer- 
tainable by comparison of surveys at different periods. Theories 
advanced on data collected by one survey, may be strengthened 
or disproved by the facts ascertained in a subsequent survey; 
and it is only when the plan proposed meets the general laws 
and the local conditions at the same time, that it holds out 
promise of success. The study of the questions involved has 
been greatly aided by the work of the Coast Survey in improve- 
ments already attempted, and will be of greater assistance in the 
future. A positive knowledge of what the local conditions were 
when a harbor was at its greatest capacity, is of the greatest help 
in indicating the improvements necessary to restore it, after de- 
terioration, or to maintain it in the full measure of its usefulness. 
Reliable charts do this, but they tell only half the story. A 
cause must be found for the effects that have been produced, 
and the remedy suggested must overcome that cause or control 
it, that it may work good instead of evil. In Physical Hydro- 
graphy we learn the forces that nature has given us in the tides, 
the currents and the winds, and divert them from powers of 
destruction, as man in his ignorance may have led them, or in 
their warfare with one another they may have led themselves; 

The Sttrvey of the Coast. 69 

and bring their mighty influence to protect, improve or maintain 
that which we originally had. Many harbors have suffered in- 
calculable injury through the recklessness of these who live upon 
them, and whose daily bread is dependent upon their preserva- 
tion; until the evil has become so great that commercial cities 
have now " Harbor Commissions," whose special function is the 
preservation and improvement of the harbors. The original sur- 
veys made by Coast Survey are the foundations on which they 
very generally must build, while re-surveys point out to them 
the obstacles that must be overcome. And thus it will ever be; 
and future generations endeavoring to meet the demands of com- 
merce for increased facilities, will have still greater cause for 
thankfulness, that the wise men who inaugurated the work of 
the Coast Survey, determined that it should be executed with 
every improvement that science could devise; and that the able 
men who conducted it, did not yield to the clamor for quick 
returns and cheap i^esults, of only momentary value. They will 
realize by the benefits they will derive from it, as do those now 
living who have watched its progress and development, that the 
best is the cheapest as it will be useful through all time. 

In 1871 Congress authorized the execution of a Geodetic tri- 
angulation across the continent to connect the great primary 
triangulations along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and pro- 
vided that the triangulation should determine positions in those 
States that made requisite provision for topographical and geo- 
logical surveys of their own territories. Each year since then, a 
small sum has been expended on these works with gratifying 
results to the States that have availed themselves of the assist- 
ance. But it was not until 1878 that Congress designated the 
Bureau as the " Coast and Geodetic Survey," the official title it 
bears at this time. Many comments have been passed upon the 
action of Congress in extending the field of the survey to the 
interior in the establishment of a " Geodetic Survey," which has 
Ibeen looked upon as a purely scientific research for which the 
people had no immediate use, and could well afford to wait. But 
if the tree can be judged by its fruit, there will be no lack of 
testimony to the economic value of the Geodetic Survey in the 
near future; aside from its scientific and practical usefulness in 
perfecting the Survey of the Coasts. It will eventually be the 
basis for a precise survey of the whole country, determining 
boundai'ies, settling disputes, and furnishing incontrovertible 

70 National Geographic Magazine. 

data by which later generations can reproduce the marks placed 
by the local surveyors who make use of it, should they become 
obliterated or lost; thereby causing a direct increase in the se- 
curity of property boundaries, and diminution in litigation that 
now costs millions of dollars annually. Some of the practical 
advantages to be derived from such a work, are now being de- 
monstrated in Massachusetts in the " Town boundary Survey," 
as it is called, in which the corners, or turning points of the 
boundaries are being determined trigonometrically in a subsi- 
diary work based upon the Geodetic triangulation of the Coast 
Survey. Each boundary corner in this scheme becomes a fixed 
point, and the direction and distance of many other corners are 
at once accurately ascertained in their true relations to it. The 
town boundaries will in due time be made the bases of reference 
for all local surveys and subdivisions of property; so that, even- 
tually, there will be developed a cadastral map of unrivaled ex- 
cellence, to supplement the Topographical map that has just been 

The imperfections of our " land surveys," brilliant as the 
scheme was conceived to be at the time of its inauguration, de- 
monstrate only too clearly the extravagance of primitive methods 
in matters intended to be enduring. As time passes and pro- 
perty taken up under the " land survey " becomes more valuable, 
the difficulty of accurately identifying boundaries becomes more 
serious, until finally, it is only after long litigation that rights 
are determined. The inherent defect in the land survey to ac- 
complish the purpose for which it was designed, lies in the fact, 
that while it parcels out the land, or a section of land, in a given 
number of lots, it fails to provide the means for identifying the 
boundaries of the lots at any future time; the marks placed for 
this purpose become obliterated or perhaps are moved by design- 
ing men, until a large area may be involved in great uncertainty. 
A triangulation covering the same ground and controlled by 
Geodetic work, determining the true positions of the old marks 
that may be left, would be the most economical and precise 
method of relieving these uncei'tainties and fixing for all time 
the location and boundaries of the lots originally parcelled out , 
by observations and marks that cannot be lost or obliterated. 

The system of weights and measures in use throughout the 
country is largely due to the patient labor of the Coast Survey. 
Required by law to have standards of length, the only bureau in 

TJie Biirvey of the Coast. 71 

the public service that required such a measure of precision, it was 
in the natural order of events that the Superintendent of the Sur- 
vey should also be chai'ged with the maintenance of standards of 
Weight and Capacity. The duplication of standards for the use 
of the people was begun under Mr. Hassler, so long ago that the 
system has really grown with the population. Wise legislation 
has fostered the sentim.ent of uniformity until we are indeed 
blessed, that wherever we may be in all our broad domain, a 
pound is a pound, a yard is a yard, and a bushel is a bushel. 
Manufacturers receive their standards from the Bureau, and in 
special cases have their products tested and certified. And indi- 
viduals engaged upon work of great refinement, seek the stamp of 
the Bureau, also, upon the measures on which they must rely. 
But so careful is the Bureau to preserve the integrity of its certifi- 
cate, that the stamp is refused except on weights or measures of 
approved metal and workmanship. Business men realize in every 
day life the benefits that have been derived from the simple legis- 
lation that inaugurated a supervision over the weights and meas- 
ures of the country early in her history, though they may have 
no conception of the endless annoyances they would have been 
subjected to had the preservation and duplication of standards 
not been provided for. 

The limited time assigned to me will not permit a detailed 
statement of the researches made by the Bureau in all the dif- 
ferent branches of science related to the practical conduct of the 
work, much less a reference, even, to the many improvements 
instituted in the practice of surveying. As in the case of the 
observatories called upon to replace their defective instruments 
with those more refined, to enable them to furnish star places of 
suflicient precision to meet the improved method of determining 
latitude, so has the demand ever been upon the experts employed 
upon the work in all its branches. The Triangulation, Topog- 
raphy, Hydrography, Astronomy and Magnetics have all passed 
through several stages of development and improvement in 
methods and instruments, to meet the requirements put forth by 
those charged with the conduct of the work, that the fiill meas- 
ure of harmony desired should be secured and that they might 
supply the demands made upon them for information. Imperfect 
results indicate defects to be remedied, and it is to the credit of 
those who performed the labor, that they overcame one difficulty 
after another as they were developed, until now the methods and 

72 National Geographic Magazine. 

instruments in the hands of experts, will produce far superior re- 
sults at a much less cost than was possible at the time the Survey- 
was inaugurated. 

The charting of the great ocean currents, has long been an 
interesting investigation to hydrographers the world over, A 
sketch of the efforts, projects, and devices that have been resorted 
to by the Coast Survey in the attempt to unravel the mysteries of 
the Gulf Stream, would exemplify the continuous demand for 
improvement and new exertions under which those employed 
upon the work have always labored, although the full measure of 
knowledge sought has not yet been obtained. But it is not neces- 
sary to enter into these details at this time ; let it suffice that 
many experiments and failures pointed out the path to be fol- 
lowed by subsequent observers, and stimulated to new efforts,. 
until at last appliances have been perfected that have already 
produced wonders, and it is safe to predict, will ere many years 
show the ocean currents on the charts of the world with the same 
relative precision that the currents in a river or harbor can now 
be indicated. Lieutenant Maury gave us current charts that 
were a marvel in their day, but his information, or data, was 
defective, and his conclusions, therefore, only approximate ; and 
how to improve on the data he had, has ever since been the sub- 
ject of research. The depth of the ocean is necessarily an im- 
portant factor in the study of its features, as erroneous depths 
lead to false hypotheses. The introduction by the English of a 
method of sounding with a wire, has therefore proved an im- 
portant advance. American officers have perfected the apparatus 
and severely tested the methods, demonstrating the reliability of 
the results and the total unreliability of the old deep sea sound- 
ings taken with a line. These accurate wire soundings have re- 
vealed new facts, disproved old theories and formed new ones to 
guide future researches. So successful is the improved apparatus 
that specimens of the bottom of the ocean have been brought up 
from a depth of five miles. The great value of this system, how- 
ever, is not confined to the mere ascertainment of depths for the 
hydrographer and cartogi-apher, as may be readily demonstrated 
by referring to the reports of the Fish Commissioner. A further 
step towards improving on Maury's results ; the crowning glory 
that is to shed light on much that has been dark, and trace out 
those ocean currents we have heretofore vainly endeavored to fol- 
low, is found in the invention and devices of a naval officer 

The Survey of the Coast. 73 

attached to the Survey, whereby he can anchor the ship in mid- 
ocean and observe the direction and velocity of the current as 
from a stationary body, and with a " current meter," also his own 
invention, determine the same factors hundreds of feet below the 
surface ; thus ascertaining not only the movement at the surface, 
but the depth of the body of water that moves, and the velocity 
at various depths, so that finally we have the volume — a quantity — 
to be followed until it meets other currents or is absorbed in the 
vast expanse. Already current observations have been recorded 
with the ship anchored at the great depth of eighteen hundred 
fathoms ; and arrangements have been perfected that it is be- 
lieved will prove successful at the greater depth of three thousand 
fathoms. It is impossible with our superficial knowledge of the 
great ocean currents to estimate the benefits that will be derived 
from their systematic exploration. It is not probable that the 
absolute determination of their limits would produce such a revo- 
lution in navigation, as was caused by Maury's wind charts, but 
it is reasonably certain they would prove a valuable assistance to 
the navigator, and in the great channels and bays of the world 
increase his facilities for the successful navigation of his ship. 
Not a little of their value, perhai)s the larger part, will be of an 
indirect nature, resulting from their study by investigators in the 
natural sciences interested in utilizing the bounties of nature for 
benefit of man. 

The Survey was instituted for the determination of facts, and 
the presentation of them in an intelligible form. It does not pro- 
mulgate theories, and has no use for them beyond the assistance 
they may be in indicating the line of reseai'ch necessary to ascer- 
tain the facts ; but rather leaves to the student the formulation 
of the theories that may be deduced from the facts presented. 
The publications of the Survey are, therefore, calculated to con- 
tain only useful, practical information, on the subjects of which 
they treat. An examination of them will show this to be the 
case, and further, that error has more likely been committed by 
over-caution, than a too free use of the material at command. 
Doubtless much has been suppressed through lack of means, as it 
has always been the aim of the Superintendents to expend the 
appropriations in producing the most useful results, whether in 
surveys to be made or facts to be published. It necessarily 
requires many years to complete- a precise survey over a large 
area ; and in the work of the Coast Survey, with the people in 

74: National Geographic Magazine. 

all sections of our extended coast line petitioning for surveys at 
the same time, the problem was beset with additional difficulties. 
Fortunately Congress prescribed the method on which the work 
should be conducted, and that the method permitted making sur- 
veys widely sej)arated with the certainty that they could eventu- 
ally be joined and form a consistent whole. Soon after the plan 
of reorganization of 1843 had been adopted, surveying parties 
were on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts at many jDoints; the princi- 
pal harbors and headlands with outlying shoals were first sur- 
veyed and it was but a few years before charts of them were pub- 
lished. The less important shores between these points were left 
for future work, biit Hydrographic examinations or Nautical sur- 
veys, were made of them, and preliminary charts of long stretches 
of coast were issued, to be followed when the surveys had been 
completed by the finished chart of reliable data. So elastic was 
the system adopted for the conduct of the work, that its availa- 
bility was limited only by the annual appropriations. Soon after 
the annexation of Texas surveying parties were on that coast, and 
on the acquisition of California a few years subsequently parties 
were soon at work there also ; and after the close of the war and 
purchase of Alaska, the immense field thus opened was attacked 
with equal promptness, and a reconnaissance made that resulted 
in a map of considerable accuracy. As the precise surveys were 
extended the charts and plans published from the preliminary 
surveys were withdrawn, the new charts necessarily having later 

The original surveys of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are now 
practically completed, but very little more remaining to be done 
in a few comparatively unimportant localities. On the Pacific 
coast precise surveys supplemented by careful reconnaissance of 
less important sections, define nearly the whole outline, excepting 
Alaska, but a great deal of work is still required to obtain the 
full measure of information necessary to accurately chart it. 
And in Alaska, Nautical surveys have developed long stretches of 
the " Inland passage " and the most important anchorages, sup- 
plementing the general reconnaissance of the whole coast line. 
A very large proportion of our shores, however, are subject to 
such radical changes from natural causes, that the survey of the 
coast can never be brought to final completion. Examinations 
and re-surveys are as essential as was the original work, if the 
material already acquired is to be maintained in the full measure 

The Survey of the Coast. 75 

of its usefulness, and commerce is to continue to reap the legiti- 
mate benefit of the expenditures already incurred. Fortunately 
the survey has been conducted on such sound principles it meets 
the increasing requirements for accuracy demanded by the navi- 
gation of to-day, as fully as it did the more simple needs of the 
navigator of forty years ago, and it is fairly believed, whatever 
may be the necessities of the future, that it will still supply the 
information desired. 

The Surveys are published in four hundred and fifty charts 
designed to meet the various needs of the ISTavigator and Civil 
Engineer, for either general or local purposes ; over thirty thou- 
sand copies of these are issued annually and there is a steadily 
increasing demand. 

The assistance rendered to the armies and fleets of the Union, 
in the late Civil War, is a chapter in the history of the Survey 
that should not be forgotten. The oflice in Washington was 
beset with demands for information from all over the country, 
for descriptions not of -the coast alone, but all sections of the 
interior representing the seat of war. Fortunately the experts 
were there who, under the direction of able chiefs, could collect 
and compile such material as was available. The labor of the 
oflice in this cause resulted in the publication of a series of " War 
Maps " of the interior, for which there is frequent demand even 
at the present day. This was all additional work to a force 
already overburdened in the preparation of manuscript maps and 
special information, compiled from the reports of the Field par- 
ties ; especially of those localities that had only recently been 
surveyed. And in all the din and excitement of the call to arms, 
with hosts of stalwart, honest men assembled around him, that 
might give in their learning the wisdom of the world, the con- 
trolling mind of the Survey, that had labored diligently and 
sought knowledge patiently, was a chosen counsellor of the Chief 
of the Nation. Declining military honors, the profession in 
which he had been educated, he devoted himself with renewed 
energy to assisting the nation's efforts in those special duties he 
knew so well how to perform. A patriot himself of the purest 
type, he inspired those around him by his ennobling spirit and 
zeal in the cause. 

An average of twenty parties were maintained with the Army 
and Navy during all the years of the war, rendering services of 
acknowledged value to the military forces. An officer of the Coast 

76 National Geographic Magazine. 

Survey piloted tlie fleet into Port Royal ; another led the Iron 
Clads in the attack on Sumter ; a third stationed the fleet in the 
bombardment of Jackson and St. Philip ; and a fourth rendered 
signal services in the assault on Fort Fisher. They were on the 
Peninsula, guides in the wildei'ness on the retreat to Malvern 
Hill ; at Chickamauga, Knoxville, Missionaiy Ridge ; the march 
to the Sea and pursuit through the Carolinas ; on the Red river ; 
before Petersburgh ; in the Sounds of North Carolina ; the Sea 
Islands of Georgia and Florida and the swamps of Louisiana ; 
and, wherever they went, few in numbers though they were, they 
gained honor for their cause and credit for their Chief. 

The Survey of the Coast has excited the admiration of the 
whole civilized world for its thoroughness and accuracy, and has 
not been excelled by the most advanced nations. It has justly 
been claimed to be a scientiflc work, as well as a practical one, 
for science has guided those who have conducted it and led them 
through the fields of their labors on the only sure basis to pro- 
duce knowledge. And the great knowledge that has been ac- 
quired by its scientific prosecution, is beyond comparison with 
the little that would have resulted had it been conducted on the 
less thorough methods of Nautical Surveying that have been so 
earnestly advocated. We cannot compute the value of what has 
been learned in dollars and cents; that it has saved to the Nation 
many times over, all that it has cost, does not admit of a doubt. 
Its educational influence has been widespread, extending beyond* 
the seas, and coming back to us with cheering words of encour- 
agement and praise. Practical men utilizing the results of the 
great work in the business affairs of life, use no stinted phrases 
in the encomiums they bestow upon it ; Military men compelled 
to rely upon it in the perils of warfare, have not found it want- 
ing, and have given only praise for the great help it was to them ^ 
Scientific men, ever watchful of that which is true, have approved 
it the world over, and cite it as an example of the great profit 
that may come to a people, free to utilize Science in the conduct 
of practical work. Our institutions of learning have adopted its 
publications in text-books. Our merchants venture millions of 
dollars daily on the veracity of its statements, and our mariners 
risk their lives on the truthfulness of the Surveys. It has added 
to the prosperity of the nation in peace — to her glory in war ; 
and when history shall record its awards to our people, there will 
be no page of the galaxy with more honor than that which bears 

The Survey of the Coast. 77 

tribute to the genius of American Science, in the work of the 
Coast Survey. From ignorance most profound we have been 
raised to knowledge almost perfect; and well may the commercial 
communities by their associations and exchanges bear the testi- 
mony to its value that they do, and have done in times past ; as 
might the whole people for the wise legislation that established 
the work, that has defended it, and we may hope will perpetuate 
it for its inestimable benefits to them all. 

T8 National Geographic Magazine. 


By Henry Gannett. 

The Geological Survey is engaged in making a map of the 
United States. This work was commenced as an adjunct to the 
geological work, and was rendered necessary by the fact that, ex- 
cept in limited areas, no maps of the country on any but the 
smallest scales were in existence. While these maps are thus 
primarily made to aid in the geologic work and in the delineation 
of geologic results, they are being made of such a character as to 
meet all requirements which topographic maps on their scales 
should subserve. 

The work is being carried on in various parts of the country 
and is being prosecuted on a considerable scale, the annual output 
being between 50,000 and 60,000 sq. miles of surveyed area. 
Commenced in 1882, the work has been extended over more than 
300,000 sq. miles at the present time. Of this work the survey 
of Massachusetts forms a part. 

In some of its features this survey was an experiment. It was 
the joint work of the State and the United States, and, so far as 
I know, was the first example of such joint work. In the summer 
of 1883 the U. S. Geological Survey commenced topographic work 
within the State, the scale adopted being very nearly 2 miles to 
an inch. Only a beginning was made during the season, and in 
the following winter the Governor of the State recommended to 
the legislature that if practicable advantage be taken of the 
opportunity, and an arrangement for cooperation be made be- 
tween the State and the Geological Survey, by which a map upon 
a larger scale and with a greater degree of detail might be ob- 
tained as a result of this survey. Accordingly, after some corres- 
pondence with the Director of the U. S. Geological Survey, the 
legislature authorized the appointment of a commission, with 
power to make an arrangement with the Director of the Geologi- 
cal Survey looking toward the result above indicated, and appro- 
priated 140,000, being half the estimated cost of the survey upon 
the larger scale, $10,000 of which was to be available the first year 
and $15,000 in each of the two subsequent years. The following 
is the text of the bill, which is in many respects a model legisla- 
tive document : 

The Sttrvey and Map of Massachusetts. ^9 

Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Resolve to Provide for a Topographical Survey and Map of the 
Commonwealth. (Chapter 72, 1884.) 

Resolved, That the governor^ with the advice and consent of 
the council, be and is hereby authorized to appoint a Commission 
to consist of three citizens of the Commonwealth, qualified by 
education and experience in topographical science, to confer with 
the director or representative of the United States Geological 
Survey, and to accept its cooperation with this Commonwealth in 
the preparation and completion of a contour topographical survey 
and map of this Commonwealth hereby authorized to be made. 
Said Commission shall serve without pay, but all their necessary 
expenses shall be approved by the governor and council, and paid 
out of the treasury. This Commission shall have power to arrange 
with the Dii'ector or representative of the United States Geologi- 
cal Survey concerning this survey and map, its scale, method, exe- 
cution, form and all details of the work in behalf of the Common- 
wealth, and may accept or reject the plans of the work presented 
by the United States Geological Survey. Said Commission may 
expend in the prosecution of this work a sum equal to that which 
shall be expended therein by the United States Geological Survey, 
but not exceeding ten thousand dollars, during the year ending 
on the first day of June, eighteen hundred and eighty-five, and 
not to exceed the sum of fifteen thousand dollars in any one year 
thereafter, and the total cost to the Commonwealth of the survey 
shall not exceed forty thousand dollars. 

In pursuance of this resolution Gov. Robinson appointed the 
following gentlemen as commissioners on the part of the State : 
Gen. Francis A. Walker, President of the Massachusetts Institute 
of Technology, Mr. Henry L. Whiting, Assistant U. S. Coast and 
Geodetic Survey and Prof. IST. S. Shaler of Harvard College. The 
Director of the Geological Survey, upon being notified of this 
action, laid before the commissioners a proposition for a joint 
survey in the following terms : 

1. It is proposed to make a topographic map of the State of 
Massachusetts, the expense of which shall be borne conjointly by 
the Geological Survey and the State of Massachusetts. 

2. The Borden triangulation and the Coast and Geodetic Survey 
triangulation will be utilized as 'far as possible, and additional 
triangulation will be made to such extent as may be necessary. 

80 National Geograjphic Magazine. 

3. The topographic work of the Coast and Geodetic Survey- 
will be utilized as far as it extends. 

4. The survey will be executed in a manner sufficiently elabo- 
orate to construct a topographic map on a scale of 1 : 62,500. 

5. The topographic reliefs will be rej)resented by contour lines 
with vertical intervals varying from ten to fifty feet, as such in- 
tervals are adapted to local topography. 

6. As sheets are completed from time to time copies of the 
same will be transmitted to the commission. 

7. When the work is completed and engraved for the Geologi- 
cal Survey, the Commission, or other State authorities, may have, 
at the expense of the State, transfers from the copper plates, thus 
saying the State the cost of final engraving. 

8. The survey will be prosecuted at the expense of the Geologi- 
cal Survey for the months of July, August and September, Dur- 
ing the last half of the month of September the Commission shall 
examine the work executed up to that time, and if the results, 
methods and rates of expenditure are satisfactory to the Com- 
mission, the expenses of the work for the month of October shall 
be borne by the State of Massachusetts, for the month of Novem- 
ber by the Geological Survey, and the work thereafter shall con- 
tinue to be paid alternately by months, by the Geological Survey, 
and the State of Massachusetts severally. But as the larger ex- 
pense incident to the beginning of the work is imposed on the Geo- 
logical Survey, at the close of the work the State of Massachusetts 
shall pay such additional amount as may be necessary to equalize 
the expenditures; provided that the total expenditure of the State 
of Massachusetts shall not exceed forty thousand dollars (140,000) ; 
and if the completion of the survey of the State of Massachusetts 
and the preparation of the necessary maps on the plan adopted 
by the survey shall exceed in amount eighty thousand dollars 
($80,000), then such excess shall be wholly paid by the Geologi- 
cal Survey. 

The commissioners suggested some minor amendments to this 
proposition, which were accepted, and under these provisions 
work was commenced and carried forward continuously to its 
completion. The field work of the state was finished with the 
close of the season last fall, and the drawing of the maps is now 
substantially done. The work was done in the field with such 
accuracy and such degree of detail as to warrant the publication 
of the map upon a scale of one inch to a mile, or, what is prac- 

The Survey and Map of MassacJncsetts. 81 

tically the same thing, 1:62,500, The relief of the surface is 
represented by the contour lines, or lines of equal elevation above 
sea, traced at vertical intervals of 20 feet. ']"'hese contour lines, 
which are becoming a common feature of modern maps, add an 
additional element. They expresss quantitatively the third dimen- 
sion of the country, viz : the elevation. An inspection of such 
a map not only shows the horizontal location of points, but their 
vertical location as well. It gives the elevations of all parts of 
the country represented, above the sea. 

The map represents all streams of magnitude sufficient to find 
place on the scale, and all bodies of water, as lakes, swamps, 
marshes, etc. In the matter of culture, in which definition is 
included all the works of man, it seemed desirable to represent 
only such as are of a relatively permanent nature, and to exclude 
temporary works, for the very apparent reason that if temporary 
works were included, the map would be not only a constant sub- 
ject for revision, but even in the intei'val between the survey and 
the publication, the culture might change to a large extent, and 
the published map be correspondingly incorrect from the outset. 
In searching for a criterion which could be consistently followed 
in distinguishing between culture which should and should not 
be represented, it was found that by limiting the representation 
to that which may be denominated public culture, that is, that 
which has relation to communities, as distinguished from individ- 
uals, a consistent line could be drawn. Adopting this criterion, 
the map contains all towns, cities, villages, post offices, — in short, 
all settlements of any magnitude, all railroads and all roads, with 
the exception of such as are merely private ways, all public 
canals, tunnels, bridges, ferries and dams. There were excluded 
under this ruling isolated houses, private roads, fences and the 
various kinds of crops, etc. Forest areas are shown. Subse- 
quently, however, in response to the urgent wish of the commis- 
sioners, the survey consented to locate the houses upon the maps, 
although in the engraving these have been omitted. The omis- 
sion of all private culture leaves the maps very simple and easy 
to interpret. For convenience the field work was done upon 
a larger scale than that upon which the maps were to be pub- 
lished, viz : a scale of 1 : 30,000, or a little more than double the 
publication scale. The map of the state as planned is com- 
prised in 52 atlas sheets, each of which comprises 15 minutes of 
latitude by 15 minutes of longitude and an area of about 225 

82 National Geographic Magazine. 

square miles. These sheets upon the scale of publication are 
about 1*7^ inches by 13 in dimensions. In two or thi'ee cases 
along the coast it seemed to be in the interest of economy to 
vary from this arrangement slightly, in order to avoid the multi- 
plication of sheets. Many of the sheets upon the borders of the 
state project over into other states, and, in cases where the area 
lying without the state was small, the survey was extended 
beyond the limits of the state, in order to complete the sheets. 

Every map is a sketch, which is corrected by the geometric 
location of a greater or less number of points. Assuming entire 
accuracy in the location of the points, that is, assuming that the 
errors of location of the points are not perceptible upon the 
map, the measure of accuracy of the map consists in the num- 
ber of these geometric locations per unit of surface, per square inch, 
if you will, of the map. The greater the number of these locations 
the greater the accuracy of the map, but however numerous they 
may be the map itself is a sketch, the points located being simply 
mathematical jDoints. Whatever method be employed for mak- 
ing these geometric locations, the sketching is substantially the 
same everywhere. The methods of making these locations must 
differ with the character of the countr}^, as regards the amount 
and form of its relief, the prevalence of forests and other circum- 
stances. There are two general methods of making the geo- 
metric locations used in surveying; one, bv triangulation ; the 
other by the measurement of a single direction and a distance, 
which is the method employed in traverse surveying. In prac- 
tice, the two methods are often combined with one another. 
Both methods have been employed in Massachusetts. The funda- 
mental basis of the work was the triangulation which had been 
carried over the state by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. 
By this survey points were located at wide intervals over the 
state. Besides this there was executed between 1830 and 1840,, 
at the expense of the state, a triangulation known as the " Bor- 
den Survey." This located a much larger number of points,, 
but less precisely. The Coast and Geodetic Survey kindly under- 
took the adjustment of this triangulation to an agreement with 
its own work, and, as many of the lines were common to the two 
pieces of work, the locations made by the Borden Survey were 
by this adjustment greatly strengthened. Even after this work 
was done, however, there remained considerable areas which 
were destitute of located points, and it became necessary to sup- 

The Surney and Mai) ^f Massachusetts. 83 

plement it. This was done in part by the Coast and Geodetic 
Survey and in part by the Geological Survey. By these several 
agencies upwards of 500 points were made available for the use 
of the topographers. These are in the main well distributed, fur- 
nishing upon each sheet a sufficiency, while upon many the num- 
ber is greatly in excess of the requirements. 

The work of location has been done in different parts of the 
state by different methods as seemed most applicable to the dif- 
fering conditions of relief, forest covering and culture. Through- 
out most of the western part of the state the work was done 
entii-ely with the plane table, using the method of intersections as 
the means of location. Each plane table sheet comprised one- 
half of an atlas sheet, cut along a parallel of latitude. The plane 
tabler, starting with three or more locations upon his sheet, fur- 
nished by the triangulation, expanded over the sheet a graphic 
triangulation, locating thereby a considerable number of points, 
before commencing detailed work. This was done as rapidly as 
possible, consistent with a high degree of precision. The reason 
for covering the sheet with the graphic triangulation beforehand 
lay in the necessity for locating a considerable number of points 
before the sheet had opportunity to become distorted by alter- 
nations of moisture and drying. This done, the plane tabler 
went on with his usual routine of work, locating minor points 
and sketching the topography in contours. The map was as far 
as possible completed upon the stations, with the country in view. 
Elevations were determined as the work progressed, with the 
vertical circle of the alidade, and minor differences of elevation 
between points whose height was known were measured by 
aneroid barometer. 

In this work several different forms of plane table have been 
employed. It was commenced with the large heavy movement 
designed I believe by the Coast and Geodetic Survey. This, 
however, was found unnecessarily heavy and cumbersome, and it 
was discovered that the requisite degree of stability could be 
obtained with much less weight. For this plane table movement 
there was soon substituted another form in use in the Coast and 
Geodetic Survey, which is very much lighter. This was soon 
improved by taking off the slow motion in azimuth, which was 
found to be unnecessary, and the addition of more powerful 
clamps, for the purposing of rendering it more stable. A still 
more stable form, however, coupled with even less weight, was 

84: National Geograj)hic Magazine. 

designed by Mr. W. D. Johnson, of the U. S. G. S. and was im- 
mediately adopted. This is substantially a modification of the 
ball and socket movement. It consists of two cups of large size 
fitting closely to one another and working within one another in 
such a way as to allow of the adjustment in level, and the clamp- 
ing of the level adjustment independently of the azimuth move- 
ment, clamps for both level and azimuth adjustments being under- 
neath the instrument. This form is extremely stable, admits of 
quick adjustment and leveling, and it has been from the time of 
its invention in general use in this state and elsewhere in the 

In the undulating, forest-covered, region in the southeastern 
part of the state it was found impracticable to use economically 
the method of intersections, and resort was had to the traverse 
method for making locations. In this method, as is well known, 
one station is located from another by the measurement of a 
distance and direction, the line of stations being connected at 
each end either upon stations in the triangulation or upon other 
lines, while from the stations in these traverse lines, points off the 
lines are located by intersections, if practicable, or by distance 
and direction measurement. For this kind of work the plane 
table, at least such a plane table as is generally in use is an incon- 
venient instrument. The plane table with the telescopic alidade 
is too cumbersome an instrument to be carried about and set up 
as frequently as is necessary in this work. Therefore for this 
purpose theodolites, fitted with stadia wires and stadia rods, have 
been used. Distances are measured by the angles subtended by 
the stadia wires upon the rod, whose divisions are of known 
length, while the directions are measured by the compass attached 
to the theodolite, and differences of elevation by spirit level and 
vertical angles. With this instrument lines were run along all 
the roads and along the principal streams in this part of the state 
and from these lines the country lying between them was located 
and sketched. 

In the northeastern and in much of the middle portion of the 
state a mixed method of work was employed, the plane table 
being used for carrying on the intersection work wherever it 
could be done, while by traversing the roads, their details, which 
could not be obtained by the plane table in this region, were 
reached. These traverses were platted in the office and the maps 
drawn from notes and sketches made in the field. 

The Survey and Map of Massachusetts. 85 

The degree of accuracy of the map depends upon the accuracy 
of the locations, their number and the uniformity of their distri- 
bution. Of their accuracy it is only necessary to state that their 
errors are not sufficiently^ large to be appreciable upon the scale 
of the map, for instance the scale being one inch to a mile, an 
error of 50 feet in the location of a point would be upon the map 
but one hundredth of an inch,^a barely appreciable quantity, 
and it is of course easy to make the locations within this limit. 
Of the number of locations per unit of maj) surface I shall give 
statistics drawn from the full experience of the Survey in this 
state. The area surveyed by the method of intei'sections exclus- 
ively comprises 3,500 square miles, or about two-fifths of the 
state. In this area 3,123 stations were occupied with the plane 
table, or slightly less than one to a square mile, or, measured upon 
the map, one to a square inch. Besides these, 17,846 points were 
located in this area by intersections, making, with the occupied 
stations, a total of 20,969 locations within the area, or 6.2 hori- 
zontal locations per square inch. In the same area the heights of 
34,893 points were measured, being 10 per square inch. I am 
expressing these figures in terms of inches of the final map, 
because it is the map with which we are concerned. 

The area surveyed by the traverse method is 2500 sq. miles. 
In this area 5615 miles of traverse lines were run, being 2.2 linear 
inches per square inch of the map. In running these lines 46,524 
stations were made with the theodolite, being 8.3 per linear mile 
of traverse and 18.6 per sq. inch of map. The number of meas- 
urements of height was 92,561, being 37 to the square inch. 

The area surveyed by the mixed method comprised 3000 sq. 
miles. In this 900 stations were made with the plane table, and 
from them 3718 points were located by intersection, making 
altogether 4618 points located with the plane table. In addition 
to this, 6767 miles of traverse were run, being 2.2 linear miles 
per square mile of area. In these traverses 31,708 instrumental 
stations were made, or 4.7 per linear mile and 10.6 per sq. mile. 
The sum of the plane table stations, locations, and the traverse 
stations, which makes up the total of horizontal locations in this 
area, is 36,326, being a total of 12.1 points per sq. inch of map. 
The number of measurements of height in this area is 67,119, 
being 22.4 per sq. inch. It will be seen that the number of hori- 
zontal locations and of height measurements in the area traversed 
is much greater than in that surveyed by the intersection 

86 National Geographic Magazine. 

method, and it might be inferred that the former work is better 
controlled than the latter. I do not judge, however, that this is 
the case, owing to the fact that traverse stations are not of as 
much value for purposes of location as those by intersection. 
The latter are selected points. The former are not selected 
points, but on the contrary, a large proportion of them are 
located simply for carrying forward the line and are of no further 
service, and very few of them are such as would be fitted for the 
purpose of controlling areas. 

Within the area surveyed by traverse nearly every mile of road 
has been run. With the exception of those in the cities, nearly 
every house and every church in the commonwealth has been 
located, either by intersection with the plane table or by traverse. 

The organization of the surveying parties has been of the sim- 
plest character. Plane table work has been carried on by one 
man with an assistant, the latter doing little more than attend the 
plane tabler and assist him in carrying the instruments. Each of 
these little plane table parties was furnished with a horse and 
buggy for transportation. The organization for traverse work has 
been equally simple, consisting of a traverse man and a rodman. 
As a horse and buggy would be an impediment in this work, this 
feature of the outfit has been omitted. In the mixed work the 
traverse men have been under the immediate control of the plane 
tabler, so that their movements have been directed by him in de- 
tail. The average output per working day of the plane tabler has 
been for the whole survey 3,1 sq. miles, and of the traverse man 
2.8 sq. miles, and, as the expenses of the former have been slightly 
greater than those of the latter, the cost per square mile of the two 
methods of work has been substantially the same. 

The average cost per square mile of the survey of the State has 
been a trifle less than |13. This includes the salaries of all men 
engaged upon the work during the field season, their traveling, 
subsistence and all other expenses, the salaries of the men engaged 
in di'awing the maps in the oflSce, the cost of supervision and of 
disbursement, — in short all expenses of whatever character, in- 
curred in the production of the map. 




First Regular Meeting, Feb. lY, 1888. — Held in the Law 
Lecture room of Columbian University, the president, Mr. Hub- 
bard, in the chair. 

The president delivered an inaugural address. 

Major J. W. Powell lectured on the Physiography of the 
United States. 

Second Regular Meeting, March 3, 1888. — Held in the Law 
Lecture room of the Columbia University, vice-president Bart- 
lett in the chair. 

Paper : Patagonia, by Mr. W. E. Curtiss. 

Third JRegxdar Meeting, March 17, 1888, — Held in the Assem- 
bly Hall of the Cosmos Club, the president, Mr. Hubbard, in the 

Paper : Physical Geography of the Sea, by Commander J. R. 

Fourth Regidar Meeting, March 31, 1888. — Held in the As- 
sembly Hall of the Cosmos Club, the president, Mr. Hubbard, in 
the chair. 

Discussion was had on the proposed Physical Atlas of the 
United States, participated in by Messrs. Gannett, Gilbert, 
Ogden, Greely, Marcus Baker, Willis, Bartlett, Merriam, Ward, 
Henshaw and Abbe. 

Fifth Regular Meeting, April 13, 1888. — Held in the Assem- 
bly Hall of the Cosmos Club, vice-president Merriam in the 

The discussion of the proposed Physical Atlas of the United 
States was continued, and was participated in by Messrs. Marcus. 
Baker, Greely, Willis, Cosmos Mindeleff, Gilbert Thompson, 
Kenaston, Gannett and Van Deman. 

88 National Geographic Magazine. 

Paper: The Survey of the Coast, by Mr. Herbert G. Ogden. — 
[Puhlished in Vol. 1, N'o. 1, " National Geographic Magazine.''''') 

Sixth Regxdar Meeting, April 27, 1888. — Held in the Assem- 
bly Hall of the Cosmos Club, the president, Mr, Hubbard, in the 

Papers : The Great Storm of March 11-14, 1888, by Gen. A. 
W. Greely and Mr. Everett Hayden. — {Published in Vol. 1, No. 
1, " National Geographic Magazine.'''') 

Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation, by Prof. W. 
M. Davis. — {Published in Vol. 1, No. 1, ^'National Geographic 

Seventh Pegxdar Meeting, May 11, 1888. — Held in the As- 
sembly Hall of the Cosmos Club, vice-president Merriam in the 

Papers : The Survey and Map of Massachusetts, by Mr. Henry 
Gannett. — {Published in Vol. 1, No. 1, '•'•National Geographic 

Graphic Triangulation, by Mr. W. D. Johnson. 

Eighth Regular Meeting, May 25, 1888. — Held in the Assem- 
bly Hall of the Cosmos Club, vice-president Merriam in the 

Papers : The Classification of Geographic Forms by Genesis, 
by Mr. W. J. M.cG;qq.— {Published inVol. \, No. 1, ''National 
Geographic Magazine'') 

The Classification of Topographic Forms, by Mr. G. K. Gilbert. 

The North Winds of California, by Mr. Gilbert Thompson. 



This is to Certify that we whose names are hereunto subscribed, 
citizens of the United States, and a majority of whom are citizens 
of the District of Columbia, have associated ourselves together 
pursuant to the provisions of the Revised Statutes of the United 
States relating to the District of Columbia, and of an act of 
Congress entitled : " An Act to amend the Revised Statutes of 
the United States relating to the District of Columbia and for 
other purposes," approved April 23, 1884, as a Society and body 
corporate, to be known by the corporate name of the National 
Geographic Society, and to continue for the term of one hundred 

The particular objects and business of this Society are : to 
increase and diffuse geographic knowledge ; to publish the trans- 
actions of the Society ; to publish a periodical magazine, and 
other works relating to the science of geography ; to dispose of 
such publications by sale or otherwise ; and to acquire a library, 
under the restrictions and regulations to be established in its 
By-Laws. ___ 

The affairs, funds and property of the corporation shall be in 
the general charge of Managers, whose number for the first year 
shall be seventeen, consisting of a President, five Vice Presidents^ 
a Recording Secretary, a Corresponding Secretary, a Treasurer 
and eight other members, styled Managers, all of whom shall be 
chosen by ballot at the annual meeting. The duties of these 
officers and of other officers and standing committees, and their 
terms and the mariner of their election or appointment shall be 
provided for in the By-Laws. 

Gardiner G. Hubbard. J. W. Powell. 

C. E. DuTTOisr. Henry Gannett. 

O. H. TiTTMANN. A. H. Thompson. 

J. Howard Gore. A. W. Greely. 

C. Hart Merriam. Henry Mitchell. 

J. R. Bartlett. - George Kennan. 

Rogers Birnie, Jr. Marcus Baker. 
Gilbert Thompson. 




The name of this Society is the "National Geographic Society." 


The object of this Society is the increase and diffusion of geographic 



The members of this Society shall be persons who are interested in 
geographic science. There may be three classes of members, active, 
corresponding and honorary. 

Active members only shall be members of the corporation, shall be 
entitled to vote and may hold office. 

Persons residing at a distance from the District of Columbia may be- 
come corresponding members of the Society. They may attend its 
meetings, take part in its proceedings and contribute to its publications. 

Persons who have attained eminence by the promotion of geographic 
science may become honorary members. 

Corresponding members may be transferred to active membership, 
and, conversely, active members may be transferred to corresponding 
membership by the Board of Managers. 

The election of members shall be entrusted to the Board of Mana- 
gers. Nominations for membership shall be signed by three active 
members of the Society ; shall sty.te the qualitications of the candidate ; 
and shall be presented to the Recording Secretary. No nomination shall 
receive action by the Board of Managers until it has been before it at 
least two weeks, and no candidate shall be elected unless he receives at 
least nine affirmative votes. 



The Officers of the Society shall be a President, five Vice Presidents, a 
Treasurer, a Recording Secretary and a Corresponding Secretary. 

The above mentioned officers, together with eight other members of 
the Society, known as Managers, shall constitute a Board of Managers. 

By-loAJOS. 91 

Officers and Managers shall be elected annually, by ballot, a majority 
of the votes cast being necessary to an election ; they shall hold office 
nntil their successors are elected ; and fehall have power to fill vacancies 
occurring during the year. 

The President, or, in his absence, one of the Vice Presidents, shall 
preside at the meetings of the Society and of the Board of Managers ; 
he shall, together with the Recording Secretary, sign all written con- 
tracts and obligations of the Society, and attest its corporate seal ; he 
shall deliver an annual address to the Society. 

Each Vice President shall represent in the Society and in the Board of 
Managers, a department of geographic science, as follows ; 

Geography of the Land, 
Geography of the Sea, 
Geography of the Air, 
Geography of Life, 
Geographic Art. 

The Vice Presidents shall foster their respective departments within 
the Society ; they shall present annually to the Society summaries of 
the work done throughout the world in their several departments. 

They shall be elected to their respective departments by the Society. 

The Vice Presidents, together with the two Secretaries, shall consti- 
tute a committee of the Board of Managers on Communications and 

The Treasurer shall have charge of the funds of the Society, shall 
collect the dues, and shall disburse under the direction of the Board of 
Managers ; he shall make an annual report ; and his accounts shall be 
audited annually by a committee of the Society and at such other 
times as the Board of Managers may direct. 

The Secretaries shall record the proceedings of the Society and of the 
Board of Managers ; shall conduct the correspondence of the Society ; 
and shall make an annual report. " , 

The Board of Managers shall transact all the business of the Society, 
except such as may be presented at the annual meeting. It shall formu- 
late rules for the conduct of its business. Nine members of the Board 
of Managers shall constitute a quorum. 



The annual dues of active members shall be five dollars, payable dur- 
ing the month of January, or, in the case of new members, within 
thirty days after election. 

Annual dues may be commuted and life membership acquired by the 
payment of fifty dollars. 

No member in arrears shall vote "at the annual meeting, and the 
names of members two years in arrears shall be dropped from the roll 
of membership. 

92 National Geographic Magazine. 



Regular meetings of the Society shall be held on alternate Fridays, 
from October until May, inclusive, and, excepting the annual meeting, 
shall be devoted to communications. The three regular meetings next 
preceding the annual meeting shall be devoted to the President's annual 
address and the reports of the Vice Presidents. 

The annual meeting for the election of officers shall be the last regu- 
lar meeting in December. 

A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of twenty-five 
active members. 

Special meetings may be called by the President. 



These by-laws may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the members 
present at a regular meeting, provided that notice of the proposed 
amendment has been given in writing at a regular meeting at least four 
weeks previously. 




Vice Presidents. 










a., original members. 
Z., life mem.bers. 

In cases where no city is given in the address, Washing'ton, D. C, is to be under- 

Cleveland Abbe, a. I., 
S. T. Aberfc, 
Jeremiah Ahern, 
J. A. Allen, 
Clifford Arrick, a., 
Miss E. L. Atkinson, 
W. E. Atkinson, a., 
Miss S. C. Ayres, a., 
Frank Baker, a., 
Marcus Baker, a., 
H. L. Baldwin, a., 
E. C. Barnard, a., 
J. R. Bartlett, a., 
C. C. Bassett, a., 
Lewis J. Battle, 
A. Graham Bell, a., 
Chas. J. Bell, a., 
Julius Bien, a., 
Morris Bien, a., 
Rogers Birnie, Jr., a., 
H. B. Blair, a., 
J. H. Blodget, a., 
S. H. Bodfish, a., 
C. O. Boutelle, a., 
Andrew Braid, a., 
L. D. Brent, 
H. G. Brewer, a., 
Wm. Brewster, 
Miss L. V. Brown, 
A. E. Burton, a., 
Z. T. Carpenter, a., 
R. H. Chapman, a., 
H. S. Chase, a., 
T. M. Chatard, a., 
A. H. Clark, 

U. S. Signal Office. 

725 30th St. 

U. S. Geological Survey. 

Am. Museum of Nat. Hist., New York. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

918 Mass. ave. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. 

1315 Corcoran st. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Navy Department. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 

1336 19th St. 
1437 Penna. ave. 
New York City. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 
War Department. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

a it a 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 
Hydrographic Office. 
Cambridge, Mass. 
1313 S St. 
Boston, Mass. 
P. O. Box 387. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 
Navy Department. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 
National Museum. 

Memhers of the Society. 


E. B, Clark, a., 

Verplanck Colvin, a., 

E. E. Court, 

R. D. Cummin, a., 

W. E, Curtis, a., 

Mrs. Caroline H. Dall, a., 

C. C. Darwin, a., 

Geo. Davidson, a., 

Arthur P. Davis, a., 

Mrs. A. P. Davis, 

Wm. M. Davis, 

W. H. Dennis, a., 

J. S. Diller, a., 

E. M. Douglas, a., 

B. W. Duke, a., 

A. F. Dunnington, a., 

A. H. Dutton, a., 

C. E. Dutton, a., 
G. L. Dyer, 

G. W. Dyer, a., 
J. R. Edson, a., 
W. P. Elliott, a., 
George A. Fairfield, a., 
Walter Fairfield, a. , 

B. Fernow, a., 
J. P. Finley, a., 

E. G. Fischer, a., 

C. H. Fitch, a., 
L. C. Fletcher, a., 
Robert Fletcher, a., 
W. C. Ford, a., 
Gerard Fowke, a., 
N. P. Gage, a., 
Henry Gannett, a. , 
S. S. Gannett, a., 
G. K. Gilbert, a., 

D. C. Gilman, a., 

G. Brown Goode, a., 
R. U. Goode, a., 
Edward Goodfellow, a., 
R. O. Gordon, a., 

F. D. Granger, 
A. W. Greely, a,, 
Morris M. Green, 
W. T. Griswold, a., 
F. P. Gulliver, 
Merrill Hackett, a., 
Dabney C. Harrison, a., 

E. M. Hasbrouck, 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 
Albany, N. Y. 
Hydrographic Ofiice. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 
51B 14th St. 
1603 O St. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 
San Francisco, Cal. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Philadelphia, Pa. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Hydrographic Office. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Navy Department. 

1003 F St. 

1003 F St. 

Navy Department. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

<( a li 

Dept. of Agriculture. 

U. S. Signal Office. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Army Medical Museum. 
State Department. 
Bureau of Ethnology. 
Seaton School. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, Md. 

National Museum. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

U. S. Signal Office. 

Dept. of Agriculture. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 


National Geographic Magazine. 

E. E. Haskell, a., 
Everett Hay den, a., 
A. J, Henry, a., 
H. W. Henshaw, a., 
Gustave Herrle, a., 
W. H. Herron, a., 
George A. Hill, a., 
W. F. Hillebrand, a., 
H. L. Hodgkins, a., 

C. L. Hopkins, 

D. J. Howell, a., 

E. E. Howell, a., 
W. T. Hornaday, a., 
Gardiner G. Hubbard, a., 
C. T. lardella, a., 

J. H. Jennings, a., 
A. B. Johnson, a., 
S. P. Johnson, 
W. D. Johnson, a., 
Anton Karl, a., 
S. H. Kaufmann, a., 
C. A. Kenaston, a., 
George Kennan, a., 
Mark B. Kerr, a., 

E. F. Kimball, 

S. I. Kimball, a., 
Harry King, a., 

F. J. Knight, a., 

F. H. Knowlton, a., 

Peter Koch, a., 

Wni. Kramer, 

W. E. Lackland, a., 

Boynton Leach, 

R. L. Lerch, a., 

A. Lindenkohl, a., 

H. Lindenkohl, a., 

R. L. Longstreet, a., 

W. H. Lovell, 

James A. Maher, a.. 

Van H. Manning, Jr., a., 

Henry L. Marindin, 

C. C. Marsh, a., 

Washington Matthews, a., 

W. J. McGee, a., 

R, H. McKee, a., 

R. C. McKinney, a., 

George Melville, a., 

A. G. Menocal, a,, 

C. Hart Merriam, a., 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

Navy Department. 

U. S. Signal Office. 

Bureau of Ethnology. 

Hydrographic Office. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

U. S. Signal Office. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Columbian University. 

Dept. of Agriculture. 

1003 F St. 

Rochester, N. Y. 

National Museum. 

1328 Connecticut ave. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Light House Board. 

Le Droit Park. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

1000 M St. 

Howard University. 
1318 Massachusetts ave. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 
Le Droit Park. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

(< <( 

Bozeman, Mont. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Hydrographic Office. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

a a a 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 
Navy Department. 
Army Med. Museum. 
U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Navy Department. 
Dept. of Agriculture. 

Meinbers of the Society. 


Cosmos Mindeleff , 
Victor Mindeleff, 
Henry Mitchell, a., 
A. T. Mosman, a., 
Robert Muldrow, a., 
A. E. Murlin, 
Miss J. C. Myers, 

E. W. F. Natter, 
Louis Nell, a., 
Charles Nordhoff , a. , 
Herbert G. Ogden, a., 
T. S. O'Leary, a., 

F. H. Parsons, a., 
W. W. Patton, a., 
A. C. Peale, a., 

E. T. Perkins, Jr., a., 

G. H. Peters, a., , 
W, J. Peters, a., 
J. W. Powell, a., 
W. B. Powell, a., 

D. W. Prentiss, a., 
J. H. Renshawe, a., 
Eugene Ricksecker, a., 
C. V. Riley, a., 
Homer P. Ritter, a., 
A. C. Roberts, a., 

I. C. Russell, a., 
C. S. Sargent, a., 
W. S. Schley, a., 
S. H. Scudder, a., 
N. S. Shaler, a., 
John S. Siebert, 
Edwin Smith, a., 
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E. J. Sommer, a., 
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* James Stevenson, a., 
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Frank Sutton, 

Mary G. Thomas, a., 
A. H. Thompson, a., 
Gilbert Thompson, a., 
Laurence Thompson, a., 
R. E. Thompson, 
O. H. Tittmann, a., 
R. M. Towson, a., 
W. L. Trenholm, a., 

Bureau of Ethnology. 

Nantucket, Mass. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

804 11th St. 

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U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 

Hydrographic Office. 

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Howard University. 

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Navy Department. 
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Franklin School. 

1101 14th St. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. . 

Portland, Greg. 

Dept. of Agriculture. 

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Hydrographic Office. 

U. S. Geol. Survey. 

Brookline, Mass. 

Navy Department. 

Cambridge, Mass. 

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1616 19th St. 

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National Museum. 

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Navy Department. 

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Denver, Colorado. 

War Department. 

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* Deceased. 


NaUoncbl Geographic Magazine. 

Frank Tweedy, a., 
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Dept. of Agriculture. 

U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 
Post Office Dept. 
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U. S. Coast and Geod. Survey. 
Columbian University. 
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U. S. Geol. Survey. 

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National Museum. 

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A\ol. I. 

No. 2. 






Price 50 cents. 


Annual Address of the President : 

Africa, its Past and Future : Gardiner G. Hubbard ... 99 

Reports of the Vice-Presidents : 

Geography of the Land : Herbert G. Ogden . . . .135 

Geography of the Sea : George L. Dyer, Hydrographer, U. S. N. 136 

Geography of the Air : A. W. Greely, Chief Signal Officer, 

U.S. A 151 

Geography of Life : C. Hart Merriam 160 

Annual Report of the Treasurer 163 

Report of Auditing Committee 163 

Annual Report of the Secretaries 164 

Certificate of Incorporation 167 

Officers for 1889" 168 

By-Laws 169 

Members of the Society 173 

April, 1889, 




Yol. I. 1889. No. 2. 


Africa, the oldest of the continents, containing the earliest 
remains of man, and the birthplace of European civilization, is 
the last to be explored. Long before the temples of India or the 
palaces of Nineveh were built, before the hanging garden of 
Babylon was planted, the pyramids of Cheops and Cephren had 
been constructed, the temples of Palmyra and Thebes filled with 

Greece owes its civilization to Egypt: its beautiful orders of 
architecture came from the land of the Nile. The civilization of 
Egypt had grown old, and was in its decay, when Rome was 
born. Think what a vast abyss of time separates us from the 
days of Romulus and Remus! And yet the pyramids of Egypt 
were then older by a thousand years than all the centuries that 
have passed since then. 

For ages upon ages, Africa has refused to reveal its Secrets to 
civilized man, and, though explorers have penetrated it from 
every side, it remains to-day the dark continent. This isolation 
of Africa is due to its position and formation. It is a vast, ill- 
formed triangle, with few good harbors, without navigable rivers 
for ocean-vessels, lying mainly in the torrid zone. A fringe of 
low scorched land, reeking with malaria, extends in unbroken 
monotony all along the coast, threatening death to the adventur- 
ous explorer. Our ignorance of Africa is not in consequence of 

VOL. I. 9 

100 National Geographic Magazine. 

its situation under the equator, for South America in the torrid 
zone has long been known. There the explorer easily penetrates 
its recesses on its great rivers, — the Orinoco, Amazon, and La 
Plata, — for they are navigable from the ocean far into the interior. 
The Amazon, 3,000 miles from its mouth, is only 210 feet above 
the ocean-level, and, with its branches, is navigable for 10,000 
miles. Africa also has three great rivers, — one on each side of 
this peninsula. On the north, the Nile, the river of the past, 
empties into the Mediterranean Sea, but its navigation is soon 
interrupted by five cataracts ; so that the camel, the ship of the 
desert, bears the wares of Europe from the foot of the first 
cataract far up the river, 800 miles, to Berber, whence they are 
again shipped by boat 2,000 miles to Gondokoro, close to the 
lakes Albert and Victoria Nyanza, 4,000 feet above the sea-level, 
4,200 miles by water from the Mediterranean. 

On the west, the Kongo, the river of the future, empties into 
the Atlantic Ocean under the equatorial sun ; but its navigation 
is also impeded by successive falls extending from its mouth to 
Stanlev Pool. Then there is almost uninterrupted navigation on 
the river and its tributaries for 10,000 miles. Far inland the 
head waters of its north-eastern branches interlace with the 
waters of the Nile. Another branch i-ises in Lake Tanganyika 
in eastern Africa, while the main river finds its source higher up 
in the mountains, north of Lake Nyassa, 5,000 feet above the 
sea-level. On the east the Zambezi, the great river of southern 
Afx'ica, empties into the Indian Ocean opposite Madagascar. 
The navigation of its main branch, the Shire, is interrupted not 
far from the ocean. The Zambezi itself is navigable to the 
rapids near Tete, 260 miles from its mouth ; while one or two 
hundred miles higher up are the mighty falls of Victoria, only 
exceeded in volume of water by the Niagara, and nearly equal 
in height. 

In whatever direction Europeans attempted to penetrate Africa, 
they were met by insurmountable obstacles. Communication by 
water was prevented by falls near the mouths of great rivers. 
The greater part of the coast was very unhealthy, and, where not 
unhealthy, a desert was behind it ; but these obstacles, which 
formerly prevented exploration, now stimulate the traveler. 
The modern explorations of Africa commenced one hundred 
years ago, when Mungo Park crossed the Desert of Sahara, and 
lost his life in descending the Niger. From that time to the 

Africa^ its Past and Ftcture. 101 

present, travelers in ever-increasing numbers have entered Africa 
from every side. Some who have entered from the Atlantic or 
Pacific coasts have been lost in its wilds, and two or three years 
after have emerged on the opposite coast ; others have passed 
from the coast, and have never been heard from. Zanzibar has 
been a favorite starting-point for the lake region of Central 
Africa. Stanley started from Zanzibar on his search for Living- 
stone with two white men, but returned alone. Cameron set out 
by the same })ath with two companions, but, upon reaching the 
lake region, he was alone. Keith Johnson, two or three years 
ago, started with two Europeans: within a couple of months he 
was gone. Probably every second man, stricken down by fever 
or accident, has left his bones to bleach along the road. Drum- 
mond, a recent explorer of Africa, chose a route by the Zambezi 
and Shire Rivers as healthier and more desirable. Let us hear his 
experience. Early in his journey, at the missionary station of 
Livingstonia, on Lake Nyanza, he entered a missionary home: it 
was spotlessly clean; English furniture in the room, books lying 
about, dishes in the cupboards; but no missionary. He went to 
the next house: it was the school; the benches and books were 
there, but neither scholars nor teacher. Next, to the blacksmith 
shop: there were the tools and anvil, but no blacksmith. And 
so on to the next and the next, all in perfect order, but all empty. 
A little way oif, among the mimosa groves, under a huge granite 
mountain, were graves: there were the missionaries. 

The Niger is the only river in all Africa navigable by small 
steamers from the ocean; but the Niger does not give access to 
the interior, as it rises within 100 miles of the ocean, and, after 
making a great bend around the mountains of the Guinea coast, 
empties into the ocean only about five degrees south of its source, 
after a course of 2,500 miles. Its main branch, the Benue (or 
" Mother of Waters "), is navigable 500 or 600 miles above its 
junction with the Niger. The country through which it flows is 
thickly peopled and well cultivated ; but the natives are fierce 
and warlike, and have until recently prevented any exploration 
of the Benue. 

The Mountains of Africa. 

As mountain-ranges determine the course of rivers, influence 
the rainfall, and temper the climate, we must understand the 
mountain system of Africa before we can understand the con- 
tinent as a whole. 

102 National Geographic Magazine. 

Standing on the citadel at Cairo, and looking south, you see a 
sandstone ridge which gradually grows in altitude and width of 
base as it runs far away to the south, even to the Cape of Good 
Hope at the other end of Africa. Successive ranges of mount- 
ains follow the coast, sometimes near, at others two or three 
hundred miles inland ; the land, in the latter case, ascending 
from the coast. The only breaks in this long chain are where 
the Zambezi and Limpopo force their way to the Indian Ocean. 

In Abyssinia, on the Red Sea, there is a range of snowy 
mountains 14,V00 feet in height. A few hundred miles to the 
southeast, and near Lake Victoria Nyanza, almost under the 
equator, is another snow-capped mountain, Kilima Njaro, 18,700 
feet high, — the highest mountain in Africa, — and the mountains 
of Massai-Land, a continuation of the Abyssinian Mountains. 
Another range, apparently an offshoot of the long range from 
the Red Sea, forms a wall 100 miles long, and 10,000 feet high, 
on the east of Lake Nyassa, separating the waters of that lake 
from the Indian Ocean. This range continues to the Zambezi. 
South of this river the mountains rise 8,000 to 10,000 feet in 
height. In Cape Colony are several ranges of mountains. The 
highest peak is Compas Berg, 8,500 feet. In the eastern center 
of Africa, in the equatorial region, is an elevated plateau in 
which is the lake region, then there is a sudden rise, and a 
gradual descent towards the Atlantic. There are few continu- 
ous ranges of mountains on the western coast; but at Kamerun 
there is a cluster of mountains reaching an elevation of 13,100 
feet ; and south of Morocco some of the peaks of the Atlas 
Mountains reach an elevation of 12,000 to 13,000 feet, but they 
have little if any influence on the rainfall or temperature of the 
country. It will be seen from this statement that eastern Africa 
has high mountain-ranges rising into an elevated plateau ; that 
the land in Equatorial Africa gradually descends toward the 
west and north-west until within one or two hundred miles of 
the Atlantic Ocean, when the descent is rapid to the low and un- 
healthy coast-lands. Through equatorial Africa runs the Kongo, 
the land north of the Kongo gradually rising to an elevation of 
about 2,000 feet, and then descending to 1,200 feet at Lake 
Chad. South of the Kongo the land rises to an elevation of 
3 000 feet, and retains this elevation far south into the Portu- 
guese territory. 

Africa, its Past and Future. 103 

Careful computations have been made to ascertain the average 
elevation of the continent. The mean of the most careful esti- 
mates is a little over 2,000 feet. The interior is therefore ele- 
vated above the miasmatic influences of the coast, but exactly 
what effect this elevation has upon the temperature can only be 
ascertained after careful investigation and a series of observa^ 
tions. North of Guinea and Senegambia the coast is less un- 
healthy; but, as the Desert of Sahara extends to the ocean, the 
country is of little value, and is therefore left to the native tribes, 
unclaimed by Europeans. 

In the International Scientific Series it is stated that there are 
in Africa ten active volcanoes, — four on the west coast, and six 
on the east, — but I have not found any corroboration of this 
report, and think it very doubtful if there are any volcanoes now 
in eruption. The Kilima Njaro and Kamerun were formerly 
active volcanoes, for the craters still exist. In the south the 
diamond-fields are of volcanic ash formation. 

Equatorial Africa. 

The lake region of Africa stretches from the head waters of the 
upper Nile three degrees south, to the waters of the Zambezi, fifteen 
degrees south, — a lake region unequalled, in extent and volume 
of water, except by our lakes. Here is the Victoria Nyanza, the 
queen of inland seas, 4,000 feet above the sea-level; and a long 
series of lakes, great and small, at equal elevation. The more 
striking are Bangvveolo to the south-west, the grave of Living- 
stone, and Nyassa on the south-east. In their depths the Nile, 
the Kongo River, and the Shire (the main branch of the Zambezi) 
have their source. 

The great belt of equatorial Africa, situated between the 15th 
parallel of north latitude and the 15th parallel of south latitude, 
has continuous rains, is everywhere well watered, and has a rich 
and fertile soil. Some portions are thickly populated, and it is 
capable of sustaining a dense population. North and south of 
this belt there are two other belts of nearly equal width. In 
each of these belts there are wet and dry seasons, with abundant 
rain for the crops. The heaviest rainfall in the north belt is in 
June, while in the south belt it is in December. The rainfall 
gradually grows less toward the north, and also toward the south, 
until it ceases in the Desert of Sahara on the north, and in 

104 National Geographic Magazine. 

the Desert of Kalahai-i on the south. On the edge of these 
deserts are Lake Chad on the north, and Lake Ngami on the 
south. North of the Desert of Sahara, and south of the Desert 
of Kalahari, there is an abundant rainfall, a healthy climate, and 
fertile soil. Morocco, Algiers, and Tripoli, on the Mediterra- 
nean, are in the north region ; and Zulu-Land, the Orange Free 
State, and Cape Colony, in the corresponding region of the south. 

That portion of Africa north of the equator is three or four 
times greater than that south, and the Sahara Desert and Lake 
Chad are several times greater than the Kalahari Desert and 
-Lak§ Ngami. The Sahara Desert, the waterless ocean three times 
as larsre as the Mediterranean, extends from the Atlantic Ocean 
to the Red Sea, broken only by the narrow valley of the Nile. 
It is interspersed with oases, with the valleys of many dry 
streams, and with some mountains 8,000 feet. It has the hottest 
climate in the world. Travelers tell us, that, in upper Egypt and 
Nubia, eggs may be baked in the hot sands ; that the soil is like 
fire, and the wind like a flame ; that in other parts of the desert 
the sand on the rocks is sometimes heated to 200° in the day-time, 
while in the following night the thermometer falls below freez- 
ing-point. In crossing the desert the traveler will hardly need 
a guide, for the road is too clearly marked by the bones and skel- 
etons that point the M^ay. 

Lake Chad receives the drainage of a considerable area of 
country. In the dry season it has no outlet, and is then about 
the size of Lake Erie. In the wet season it is said to be five 
times as large. Its level rises by twenty or thirty feet until it 
overflows into the Desert of Sahara, forming a stream which 
runs northward for several hundred miles, and is finally lost in a 
great depressed plain. In the southern part of Africa the level 
of Lake Ngami rises and falls in a similar manner. 

Through the great equatorial belt runs the Kongo, one of the 
wonderful rivers of the world. The more we know of this river 
and its tributaries, the more we are impressed by its greatness 
and importance. Its principal source is in the mountain-range 
which separates Lake Nyassa from Lake Tangan;^lka, between 
300 and 400 miles west of the Indian Ocean ; thence it runs 
southerly through Lake Bangweolo. On leaving this lake, it 
takes a north-west course, running from 12° south latitude to 2° 
north latitude, thence running south-westerly to the ocean, nearly 
3,000 miles. The river Sankuru, its principal tributary, empties 

Africa^ its Past and Future. 105 

into the Kongo some distance above Stanley Pool on the south. 
The mouths of the Sankuru were discovered by Stanley, who 
was struck by the size and beauty of the river, and by the lakes 
which probably connect it by a second outlet with the Kongo ; 
but he little realized the magnitude of the river. Even before 
the journey of Stanley, Portuguese explorers had crossed several 
large streams far to the south of the Kongo, — the Kuango, the 
Kassai, and the Lomami, — and explored them for several hun- 
dred miles, but were unable to follow them to their mouths. In 
1885 and 1886, Wissman and the Belgian explorers sailed up the 
Sankuru to the streams discovered by the Portuguese. The next 
largest branch is the Obangi, now called the Obangi- Welle, 
which Hows into the Kongo on the westerly side of the conti- 
nent, a little south of the equator. An expedition organized by 
the Kongo Free State steamed up this river in the winter 
of 1887 and 1888, and solved the problem so long discussed, of 
the outlet of the Welle. The expedition left the Kongo in the 
steamer "En Avant," October 26, 1887. It passed several 
rapids, and steamed to 21° 55' east longitude, when it was 
stopped by the " En Avant " running on a rock, and the opposi- 
tion of hostile natives. Here it was only 66 miles from the west- 
ernmost point on the Welle reached by Junker, and in the same 
latitude, each stream running in the same direction, leaving no 
room to doubt that the two waters unite. 

The Little Kibali, which rises a little to the west of Wadelai in 
the mountains of Sudan, is the initial branch of this river, which 
bears successively the name of " Kibali " " Welle " and " Doru," 
and empties into the Kongo under the name of " Obangi," after 
a course of 1,500 miles. 

The discharge of water from the Kongo is only a little less 
than that from the Amazon, and is said to be three times as great 
as the discharge from the Mississippi. Grenfel, the English 
missionary and traveler, says there is no part of the Kongo basin 
more than one hundred miles from navigable water. What the 
railroad does for America, the steamboat will do for the Kongo 
Free State on its seventy-two hundred miles of navigable water. 

Appropriation of Africa by Europe. 

The English, French, Germans, and Belgians have within 
a few years planted colonies in Africa. They believe it is 
more for their interest to colonize Africa than to permit their 

106 National Geographic Magazine. 

surplus population to emigrate to America. These countries 
realize the necessity of creating new markets, if they are to 
continue to advance. In Africa the colonies must depend upon 
the home country, and open new fields for manufactures and 
commerce. They know that in equatorial Africa there are more 
than 100,000,000 people wanting every thing, even clothes. 

The whole coast of Africa on the Mediterranean Sea, the 
Atlantic and Indian Oceans from the Red Sea to the Isthmus of 
Suez, is claimed by European nations, with the exception of two 
or three small inhospitable and barren strips of coast, England 
occupies Egypt, and will hold it for an indefinite period. France 
has its colonies in Tripoli, Algiers, and Morocco, and on the At- 
lantic coast its factories in Senegambia. It seeks a route from 
Algiers across the desert to Lake Chad, and from Senegambia up 
the Senegal by steamer, thence across the country by rail to the 
head of navigation on the Niger, and down that river to Tim- 

England occupies Sierra Leone, the Gold and Slave Coasts, the 
delta and valley of the Niger, and its branch the Benue. It has 
factories on these rivers, and small steamers plying on them, and 
seeks Timbuctu by the river Niger. It controls almost the entire 
region where the palm-oil is produced. 

Timbuctu, long before Africa was known to Europe, was the 
centre of a large trade in European and Asiatic goods. Cara- 
vans crossed the Desert of Sahara from Timbuctu north to the 
Mediterranean, and east to Gondokoro, carrying out slaves, gold 
and ivory and bringing back European and Asiatic goods. 

Sandwiched between the English possessions, Liberia struggles 
for existence, its inhabitants fast degenerating into barbarism. 

Joining the English possessions on the Gold Coast, two degrees 
north of the equator, are the German possessions of Kamerun, 
with high mountains and invigorating breezes ; but the land at 
the foot is no more favorable to the European than the Guinea 
coast. One or two hundred miles in the interior of this part of 
the continent, the land rapidly rises to the tableland of equato- 
rial Africa, rich and fertile, resembling the valley of the Kongo, 
possibly habitable by Europeans. 

Next, the French occupy the Ogowe, its branches, and the 
coast, to the Kongo, and claim the country inland to the posses- 
sions of the Kongo Free State. Under M. Brazza, they have 
thoroughly explored the country to the river Kongo, and have 
established factories at Franceville and other places. 

Africa^ its Past mid Future. 107 

The Kongo Free State comes next. It holds on the coast only 
the mouth of the river, its main possessions lying in the interior, 
Belgium is the only country that has planted colonies inland. 
Like all the interior of equatorial Africa, the valley of the 
Kongo is well watered and has continuous rains. The land is 
rich and fertile, but is practically inaccessible, and, before any 
extensive commerce can be carried on, must be connected by rail- 
road with the ocean. The Compagnie du Congo has just com- 
pleted a survey for a railroad on the south side of the Kongo, 
from Matadi, opposite Vivi, to Stanley Pool. It did not encoun- 
ter any unusual difficulties, and has submitted the plans and pro- 
jects to the King of Belgium for his appi'oval. 

South of the Kongo Free State are the Portugese possessions 
of Angola, Benguela, and Mossamedes. Portugal, the first coun- 
try to circumnavigate Africa, and the first to colonize it, has for 
several centui'ies had factories, and carried on a large trade with 
Africa, exchanging clothes and blankets for slaves, gold and 
ivory. It claimed the valley of the Kongo ; but the claim has 
been reduced, and is now bounded for a considerable distance on 
the north by a line running due east and west on the 6th parallel 
of south latitude. They have good harbors at St. Paul de Lo- 
ango, Benguela, and Mossamedes, on the Atlantic coast, and the 
best harbor of Africa, at Delagoa Bay on the Indian Ocean. The 
territory claimed will, I believe, prove to be the most valuable in 
Africa. It is well watered by numerous tributaries of the Kongo 
and by the Zambezi and its branches. It is higher than the 
Kongo valley, and is therefore more healthy. Several Portu- 
guese, English, and German travelers have crossed and recrossed 
this part of the continent, and the Portuguese have some small 
settlements on the coast and in the interior. The Portuguese of 
the present generation have not the enterprise and trading spirit 
of their forefathers, and are doing very little for the settlement 
of the country. 

South of the Portuguese possessions, England claims from the 
Portuguese possessions on the Atlantic to their possessions on the 
Pacific, including Namaqua-Land, Cape Colony, the Transvaal, 
and Zulu-Land. 

Namaqua and Damai'a Land, formerly claimed by the Ger- 
mans, are now put down on some of the maps as belonging to 
England. The only harbor on the coast is held by the English ; 
and, from the character of the country, we are not surprised that 

108 National Geographic Magazine. 

the Germans have abandoned it, for we are told that " the coast 
is sandy and waterless, deficient in good harbors, devoid of 
permanent rivers, washed by never-ceasing surf, bristling with 
reefs, and overhung by a perpetual haze." 

North of Zulu-Land, the Portuguese claim the coast to Zan- 
zibar. Over Zanzibar, Germany has lately assumed the protec- 
torate, under a treaty with the Sultan of the country, claiming 
the land from the ocean to the great lakes ; then England again, 
a little to the north and far to the west of Zanzibar, the rival 
of Germany in its claims. The English have factories west of 
Zanzibar, and a regular route up the Zambezi and Shire Rivers, 
with a single portage to Lake Nyassa, and a road to Lake Tan- 
ganyika. They have steamers on each of the lakes, and several 
missionary and trading stations. The latest news from this part 
of Africa says the route to the lakes has been closed, and fhe 
missionaries and merchants murdered. 

North of the English possessions, the coast to the Red Sea is 
barren and inhospitable : it has little rain and no harbors, and is 
so worthless that it has not been claimed by any European na- 
tion. North of this region is Abyssinia on the Indian Ocean and 
Red Sea, — a mountainous country with deep valleys, rich and 
fertile, but very unhealthy. Three or four thousand feet above 
the level of the sea, is a healthier country, inhabited by a race of 
rugged mountaineers, whom it has been impossible to dispossess 
of their lands. North of Abyssinia, on the Red Sea, Italy has a 
small colony at Massaua, and England a camp at Suakin. The 
only parts of the coast not claimed by Europeans are inhos- 
pitable, without popula;tion or cultivation of any kind. 

The Belgians have spent many millions in the exploration of 
the Kongo and its tributaries. They have eighteen small steamers 
making trips from Leopoldville up the river to Stanley Falls, and 
up its branches, supplying the main stations in the basin of the 
Kongo, The Kongo Free State, unlike all other African colonies, 
is free to all. Merchants of any nation can establish factories, 
carry on trade, and enjoy the same privileges and equal facilities 
with the Belgians. The valley of the Kongo, and the plateau of 
the great lakes, have a similar climate and soil ; but the Kongo 
is easier of access, provisions are cheaper, more readily obtained, 
and the natives are less warlike. The Kongo Free State will 
therefore be more rapidly settled than any other part of Africa 
excepting Cape Colony. 

Africa^ its Past and Future. 109 

The trade with these countries is carried on by European com- 
panies under royal charter, with quasi-sovei-eign powers for ruling 
the country and governing the natives, as well as for trading with 
them. England, Germany, and Portugal subsidize steamship 
companies which make regular trips along the western coast, 
stopping at the different stations. 

From this statement it will be seen that England occupies the 
healthiest portion of Africa (Cape Colony), the most fertile val- 
leys (the I^ile and the Niger), the richest gold-fields (Gold Coast 
and Transvaal) ; that Portugal comes next, claiming the most 
desirable portion of equatorial Africa north of Cape Colony and 
south of the Kongo, but that it is unable to colonize this country, 
which will inevitably fall under the control of England ; that the 
French claim Algiers and Senegambia, and are contending with 
England for the trade of Timbuctu and the upper valley of the 
Niger ; that Germany, after vain attempts to penetrate the in- 
terior from Kamerun and Angra Pequena, has planted her flag at 
Zanzibar, and has determined to contest with England the lake 
region and the great plateaus of Central Africa ; while Italy, 
imitating the other states, tries in vain to obtain a footing on the 
Red Sea, worthless if obtained. 


The population of Africa is roughly estimated at 200,000,000, 
— about 18 to a square mile, as against 88 in Europe. It is sup- 
posed that Africa was originally inhabited by the Hottentots, or 
Bushmen, who are now found only in soiith-western Africa, and 
by the Pygmies or Dwarfs scattered about Central Africa, who, 
some say, belong to the same group. This group is noted for its 
dwarfed stature, generally under five feet ; but whether their size 
is natural, or due to privation and scanty food, is not certainly 
known. The Hottentot language is distinct from any other 
known form of speech. The Bantu occupy the greater part of 
Africa south of the equator. They probably formerly inhabited 
north-eastern Africa, but were driven from their homes by the 
Hamites. The Bantu resemble the Negro in their general char- 
acter, color, and physique, but their language shows essential 
differences. There are countless tribes of Bantu, each tribe hav- 
ing its own language, yet there was originally a primeval Bantu 
mother-tongue, from which all the dialects of this immense region 

110 National Geographic Magazine. 

are undoubtedly derived. The idioms of this family are generally- 
known as the alliteral class of languages. North of the Bantu 
are the Negroes proper, occupying the greater part of Africa 
between 5° and 15° north latitude. The negro tribes are multi- 
tudinous, and, though alike in their main physical features, are 
diverse in their speech. 

North of the Negro are the Nuba Fulah group, apparently in- 
digenous to Africa, but without any thing in common with the 
other indigenous groups. Their name, " Pullo," or " Fulah,"' 
means " yellow," and their color serves to distinguish them from 
the Negro. The Hottentot, Bantu, Negro, and Fulah, though 
distinct, have each of them the agglutinative forms of speech. 
The Hamites are found along the valley of the Nile, in Abyssinia,, 
and portions of the Sudan. The Shemitic tribes occupy the 
larger part of the Sudan, bounded on the east by the Nile, and 
on the north by the Mediterranean and North Atlantic. 

About one-half of the population are Negroes proper, one- 
fourth Bantu, one-fourth Shemites and Hamites, a few Nuba 
Fulahs and Hottentots. The Negroes and Bantu are Pagans ; 
the Shemites and Hamites, Mohammedans. There are, almost, 
innumerable tribes, speaking different languages or different 
dialects. Over six hundred tribes and languages have been clas- 
sified by Shilo, yet each is generally unintelligible to the other. 
Practically speaking, there are but two great divisions, — the 
Negroes and Bantu, occupying equatorial and southern Africa ; 
and the Hamites and Shemites, northern Africa. But there is no 
clear-cut line even between the Mohammedan and Negro. For 
many hundred years ttfe Negroes have been taken as slaves, and 
carried into the north of Africa, and have furnished the harems 
with wives, and the families with servants. The servants are 
often adopted into the families, so that the Negro blood now 
largely predominates even among the Shemites and Hamites. 

A broader and more practical distinction than that of language 
or blood is made by the religion of the African. The Moham- 
medan religion was probably brought from Arabia by the Shem- 
ites. They conquered the country along the coast, and exter- 
minated or pushed to the south the former inhabitants. Then, 
more slowly but steadily, Mohammedanism forced its way south 
by the sword or by proselyting. Within the last thirty years 
it has re-assumed its proselyting character, and is now more 
rapidly extending than at any previous time. 

Africa^ its Past and Future. Ill 

Its missionaries are of a race nearly allied to the Negro. They 
live among them, adopting their customs, and often intermarry- 
ing with them. They teach of one God, whom all must worship 
and obey, and of a future life whose rewards the Negro can com- 
prehend. They forbid the sacrifice of human victims to appease 
the wrath of an offended deity. They forbid drunkenness. 
They give freedom to the slave who becomes a Moslem, and thus 
elevate and civilize those among whom they dwell. The Chris- 
tian missionary is of a race too far above him. He is a white 
man, his lord and master. He teaches of things his mind cannot 
reach, of a future of which he can form no conception ; he brings 
a faith too spiritual ; he labors with earnestness and devotion, 
€ven to the laying-down of his life. Yet the fact remains that 
Christianity has produced but little impression in civilizing and 
elevating the people, while the influence of Mohommedanism is 
spreading on every side. 

In passing from the equator south, the tribes become more de- 
graded. Sir Henry Maine enunciated the theory of the evolution 
of civilization from the lowest state of the savage. In Africa he 
could have found all stages of civilization ; in the lowest scale, 
man and his mate, living entirely on the fruits of the earth, in a 
nude condition, his only house pieces of bark hung from the trees 
to protect him from the prevailing wind ; the vulture his guide 
to where, the previous night, the lion had fallen on his prey, 
leaving to him the great marrow-bones of the elephant or the 
giraffe ; his only arms a stick ; belonging to no tribe, with no con- 
nection with his fellow-men, his hand against every man, the 
family relation scarcely recognized. It is the land of the gorilla, 
and there seems to be little difference between the man and the 
ape, and both are hunted and shot by the Boers. In ascending the 
scale, the family and tribal relation appears, — a house built of 
cane and grass or the bark of the tree ; a few flocks ; skill in setting 
traps for game ; the weapon a round stone, bored through, and a 
pointed stick fastened in the hole. Then come tribes of a low 
order of civilization, that cultivate a little ground, having a 
despotic king, who has wives without limit, numbering in some 
<3ases, it is said, 3,000 ; wives and slaves slaughtered at his death, 
to keep him company and serve him in another life. With them, 
cannibalism is common. Then come tribes of a higher civiliza- 
tion, where the power of the chief is limited, where iron, copper, 
and gold are manufactured, and trade is carried on with foreigners. 

112 National Qeograjpliic Magazine. 

where fire-arms have been substituted for the bow and spear ; 
next the Mohammedan ; and last of all, on the shores of the 
Mediterranean, the civilization of the French and English. 

It is a curious fact that many tribes that had made considerable 
advance in manufacturing iron and copper, have for some time 
ceased manufacturing ; that others have retrograded, and have 
lost some of the arts they formerly possessed. This decline 
apparently took place after the Mohammedans had conquered 
North Africa, and sent their traders among the Negro tribes, 
who sold the few articles the Negro needed cheaper than they 
could manufacture them, and therefore compelled them to give 
up their own manufactures. Such was the effect of free trade on 
interior Africa. The Mohammedans also manufacture less than 
formerly, depending more and more upon European manufactures. 
The enterprise of the white race defies native competition, and 
stifles attempts at native manufactures : there is therefore among 
the natives a great falling-oif in the progress of outward culture, 
and the last traces of home industries are rapidly disappearing. 


One of the depai'tments of this society is the geography of life. 
At the head of all life stands man : it is therefore within our 
province to investigate those questions which more intimately 
concern and influence his welfare. 

Slavery and the slave-trade have, within the last two hundred 
years, affected African life more than all other influences com- 
bined ; and this trade, with all its sinister effects, instead of 
diminishing, is ever increasing. It has had a marked effect not 
only on the personal and tribal characters of the inhabitants, but 
on their social organization, and on the whole industrial and 
economic life of the country. It has not only utterly destroyed 
many tribes, but it has made the condition of the other tribes 
one of restless anarchy and insecurity. It has been the great 
curse of Africa, and for its existence the nations of Europe have 
been, and are, largely responsible. The temper and disposition of 
the Negro make him a most useful slave. He can endure con- 
tinuous hard labor, live on little, has a cheerful disposition, and 
rarely rises against his master. 

There are two kinds of slavery, — home and foreign. The first 
has always prevailed in Africa. Prisoners taken in war are 

Africa^ its Past and Future. 113 

sacrificed, eaten, or made slaves. Slavery is also a punishment 
for certain offences, while in some tribes men frequently sell 
themselves. These slaves are of the same race and civilization 
as their masters. They are usually well treated, regarded as 
members of the family, to whom a son or daughter may be 
given in marriage, the master often preferring to keep his 
daughter in the family to marrying her to a stranger. This 
slavery is a national institution of native growth. It is said one 
half of the inhabitants are slaves to the other half. The horrors 
of the slave-trade are unknown in this kind of slavery. 

In the other case the slave is torn from his home, carried to 
people, counti'ies, and climates with which he is unfamiliar, and 
to scenes and civilization which are uncongenial, where his 
master is of a different color and of another and higher civili- 
zation, where the master and slave have nothing in common. 
The Spaniards made slaves of the Indians of America, but they 
were incapable of work, unfitted for slavery, and rapidly faded 
away. In pity for the Indians, the Africans were brought to 
supply their places. Their ability to labor was proved, and they 
were soon in great demand. 

It is impossible to ascertain the number of slaves imported 
into America. The estimates vary from 4,000,000 to 5,000,000. 
The larger number is probably an underestimate ; but these 
figures do not represent the number shipped from Africa, for \1\ 
per cent, were lost on the passage, one-third more in the " process 
of seasoning;" so that, out of ]00 shipped from Africa, not 
more than 50 lived to be effective laborers. 

Livingstone, who studied the question of slavery most care- 
fully, estimated, that, for every slave exported, not less than five 
were slain or perished, and that in some cases only one in ten 
lived to reach Ameri&a. If the lowest estimate is taken, then 
not less than 20,000,000 Negroes were taken prisoners or slain to 
furnish slaves to America. No wonder , that many parts of 
Africa were depopulated. 

Though the slave-trade with America has been suppressed, 
thousands are annually stolen and sold as slaves in Persia, 
Arabia, Turkey, and central and northern Africa. Wherever 
Mohammedanism is the religion, there slavery exists ; and to 
supply the demand the slave-trade is carried on more extensively 
and more cruelly to-day than at- any previous time. The great 
harvest-field for slaves is in Central Africa, between 10° south 

114 National Geographic Magazine. 

and 10° north latitude. From this region caravans of slaves are 
sent to ports on the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, and thence 
shipped to Indo-China, the Persian Gulf, Arabia, Turkey in 
Asia, and even to Mesopotamia, wherever Mussulmans are found. 
The English at Suakin are a constant hindrance to this traffic ; 
and therefore Osman Digna has so often within the past five 
years attacked Suakin, desiring to hold it as a port from which 
to ship slaves to Arabia. Other caravans are driven across the 
desert to Egypt, Morocco, and the Barbary States.- Portuguese 
slave-traders are found in Central Africa, and, though contrary 
to law, deal in slaves, and own and work them in large numbers. 
Cameron says that Alrez, a Portuguese trader, owned 500 slaves, 
and that to obtain them, ten villages, having each from 100 to 
200 souls, were destroyed ; and of those not taken, some per- 
ished in the flames, others of want, or were killed by wild beasts. 
Cameron says, " I do not hesitate to affirm that the worst Arabs 
are angels of mercy in comparison to the Portuguese and their 
agents. If I had not seen it, I could not believe that there could 
exist men so brutal and cruel, and with such gayety of heart." 
Livingstone says, " I can consign most disagreeable recollections 
to oblivion, but the slavery scenes come back unbidden, and 
make me start up at night horrified by their vividness." 

If the chief or pacha of a tribe is called upon for tribute by 
his superior, if he wishes to build a new palace, -to furnish his 
harem, or fill an empty treasury, he sends his soldiers, armed 
with guns and ammunition, against a Negro tribe armed with 
bows and spears, and captures slaves enough to supply his wants. 

The territory from which slaves are captured is continually ex- 
tending ; for, as soon as the European traveler has opened a new 
route into the interior, he is followed by the Arab trader, who 
settles down, cultivates the ground, buys ivory (each pair of 
tusks worth about $500 at Zanzibar or Cairo); invites others to 
come, and when they have become acquainted with the country, 
and gathered large quantities of ivory, and porters are wanted 
to carry the tusks to the coast, a quarrel is instigated with the 
Negroes, war declared, captives taken, — men for porters, women 
for the harem, — the villages are burned, and the caravan of 
slaves and ivory takes its route to the coast, where ail are sold. 
We are told on good authority that during the past twenty years 
more slaves have been sent out than formerly wei-e exported in a 
century. Wissmann tells us what he has seen : — 

Africa^ its Past and Ftiture. 115 

"In January, 1882, we started from our camp, — 200 souls in 
all, — following the road, sixty feet wide, to a region inhabited 
by the Basonge, on the Sankuru and Lomami Rivers. The huts 
were about twenty feet square, divided into two compartments, 
the furniture consisting of cane and wooden stools ; floor, ceil- 
ing, and walls covered with grass mats. Between the huts were 
gardens, where tobacco, tomatoes, pine-apples, and bananas were 
grown. The fields in the rear down to the river were cultivated 
with sweet-potatoes, ground-nuts, sugar-cane, manioc, and millet. 
Goats and sheep and fowls in abundance, homestead follows 
homestead in never-ending succession. From half -past six in the 
morning, we passed without a break through the street of the 
town until eleven. When we left it, it then still extended far 
away to the south-east. The finest specimens in my collection, 
such as open-work battle-axes inlaid with copper, spears, and 
neat utensils, I foi;nd in this village. 

" Four years had gone by, when I once more found myself 
near this same village. With joy we beheld the broad savannas, 
where we expected to recruit our strength and provisions. We en- 
camped near the town, and in the morning approached its palm- 
groves. The paths were no longer clean, no laughter was heard, 
no sign of welcome greeted us. The silence of death breathes 
from the palm-trees, tall grass covers every thing, and a few 
charred poles are the only evidence that man once dwelt there. 
Bleached skulls by the I'oadside, and the skeletons of human 
hands attached to the poles, tell the siory. Many women had 
been carried oif. All who resisted were killed. The whole tribe 
had ceased to exist- The slave-dealer was Sayol, lieutenant of 

Sir Samuel Baker was largely instrumental in the suppression 
of the slave-trade, and, while the rule of the English and French 
in Egypt was maintained, slavery was greatly diminished ; but, 
since the defeat and death of Gen. Gordon, the slave-trade has 
rapidly increased, and is now carried on more actively than at 
any other time. The only obstacles to this traflUc are the pres- 
ence of Emin Pacha at Wadelai, the English and American 
missionaries, and English trading-stations on Lakes Victoria 
Nyanza and Tanganyika. 

The slave-traders unite in efforts to destroy Emin Pacha, and 
to expel the missionaries and all -European travelers and traders, 
except the Portuguese, and for this purpose excite the hostility 

VOL. I. 10 

116 National Geographic Magazine. 

of the Negro against the foreigner. In this they are aided by 
the Mahdi. The work of the Mahdi is largely a missionary 
enterprise. The dervishes who acconipany his army are religious 
fanatics, and desire the overthrow of the Christians and Emin 
Pacha as earnestly as the slave-trader. Religious fanaticism is 
therefore united with the greed of the slave-trader to drive out 
the Christians from the lake region. 

Aroused by these reports, and influenced by these views. 
Cardinal Lavigerie, for twenty years Bishop of Algiers and now 
Primate of Africa, last summer started a new crusade in Belgium 
and Germany against slavery and the slave-trade. The cardinal 
has organized societies, and is raising a large fund to equip two 
armed steamships for Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyassa, the 
headquarters of the slave-trade, and offers, if necessary, to head 
the band himself. The Pope has engaged in the work, has con- 
tributed liberally to this fund, and sent three hundred Catholic 
missionaries to Central Africa. The slave-trade is carried on 
with arms and ammunition furnished by European traders. 
Without these arms, the slave-trade could not be successfully 
carried on, for the Negroes could defend themselves against 
slave-traders armed like- themselves. While the demand for 
slaves continues, the slave-trade will exist, and will not cease 
until the factories of European nations are planted in the interior 
of Africa. 

Mineral Wealth of Africa. 

We are told in Phillips's " Ore Deposits " that the precious 
metals do not appear to be very generally distributed in Africa. 
More thorough research may show that this view is incorrect, 
and that there are large deposits of iron, copper, gold, and other 
metals in many parts of the continent. Gold is found on the 
Gold Coast, in the Transvaal, in the Sudan, and in Central 
Africa, but is only worked in surface diggings, excepting in the 
Transvaal ; but near all these washings, gold nuggets of large 
size, and the quartz rock, have been discovered. In Transvaal 
the mines were worked a long time ago, probably by the Portu- 
guese, then abandoned and forgotten. Recently they have been 
rediscovered, and worked by the English. In the Kaap gold- 
field in the Transvaal, three years ago, the lion and zebra, ele- 
phant and tiger, roamed undisturbed in the mountain solitudes, 
where there is now a population of 8,000, with 80 gold-mining 

Africa, its Past and Future. 117 

companies, having a capital of $18,500,000, one-third of which is 
paid up. Bai'berstown, the chief mining-town, has two ex- 
changes, a theatre, two music-halls, canteens innumerable, several 
churches and hotels, four banks, and a hospital. A railroad was 
opened in December, 1887, from the Indian Ocean towards these 
mines, 52 miles, and is being rapidly constructed 100 miles 
farther to Barberstown. 

There is reason to believe that gold deposits equal to those of, 
Mexico or California will yet be found in several parts of Africa. 
Copper is known to exist in the Orange Free State, in parts of 
Central and South Africa, and in the district of Katongo, south- 
west of Lake Tanganyika, which Dr. Livingstone was about to 
explore in his last journey. Rich copper ores are also found in 
the Cape of Good Hope, Abyssinia, and equatorial Africa. 
Large and excellent deposits of iron ore have been fou.nd in the 
Transvaal and in Algiers, and a railroad 20 miles long has been 
built to carry it from the Algerian mines to the sea. Very many 
tribes in equatorial and Central Africa work both iron and cop- 
per ores into different shapes and uses, showing that the ore-beds 
must be widely distributed. 

One of the few large diamond-fields of the world is found in 
Griqua and Cape Colony, at the plateau of Kimberly, 3,000 feet 
above the sea. The dry diggings have been very productive ; 
this tract, when first discovered, being almost literally sown with 

Coal has been found in Zulu-Land, on Lake Nyassa, and in 
Abyssinia. The latter coal-field is believed to be secondary. 
Iron, lead, zinc, and other minerals, have been found in the 
Orange Free State. Salt-beds, salt-fields, salt-lakes, and salt- 
mines are found in different parts of Africa. 


The peculiar formation of Africa, its long inland navigation, 
interrupted by the falls near the mouths of its large rivers, from 
connection with the ocean, render it necessary to connect the 
ocean with the navigable parts of the rivers by railroads. 

The Belgians will soon construct a railroad on the southerly 
side of the Kongo, to the inland navigable waters of the Kongo 
at Leopoldville, following the preliminary surveys lately com- 
pleted; the French may also construct a road from the coast to 

118 National Geographic Magazine. 

Stanley Pool; and by one or the other of these routes the inte- 
rior of Africa will be opened. 

South of the Kongo, the Portuguese are constructing a rail- 
road from Benguela into the interior. In Cape Colony railroads 
connect the greater part of the British possessions with the Cape 
of Good Hope. A railroad is also being constructed from 
Delagoa Bay to the mines in Transvaal. 

Sudan and the upper waters of the Nile can only be opened to 
a large commerce by a railroad from Suakin to Berber, about 280 
miles. Surveys were made for this road, and some work was 
done upon it, just before Gen. Gordon's death. The navigation 
of the Nile above Berber is uninterrupted for many hundred 
miles. Below Berber the falls interrupt the navigation. The 
route from Gondokoro down the Nile is by boat to Berber, camel 
to Assuan, boat to Siut, and railroad to Cairo and Alexandria, 
making a route so circuitous that it prevents the opening of the 
Sudan to any extensive commerce. 

In Algiers there are 1,200 miles of railroad, and more are being 
constructed. The French are constructing a railroad from the 
upper part of the Senegal River to the head waters of the Niger. 
The English have organized a company to construct a road from 
the Gold Coast to the mines in the interior. 

It will thus be seen that the railroad has already opened a way 
into Africa that is sure to be carried on more extensively. 

Stanley Expedition. 

There are two methods of exploring Africa. One is where an 
individual, like a Livingstone, or a Schweinfurth, or a Dr. Junker, 
departs on his journey alone. He joins some tribe as far in the 
interior, on the line of exploration, as possible ; lives with the 
tribe, adopting its habits and manner of life, learning its lan- 
guage, making whatever explorations he can ; and, when the 
region occupied by such tribe has been fully explored, leaves it 
for the next farther on. This plan requires time and never- 
failing patience ; but in this way large portions of Africa have 
been explored. The other way, adopted by Cameron, Stanley, 
Wissmann, and the Portuguese explorers, has been to collect a 
party of natives, and at their head march across the continent. 

" An immense outfit is required to penetrate this shopless land, 
and the traveler can only make up his caravan from the bazaar 

Africa^ its Past and Future. 119 

at Zanzibar. The ivory and slave-traders have made caravann- 
ing a pi'ofession, and every thing the explorer wants is to be 
found in these bazaars, from a tin of sardines to a repeating-rifle. 
Here these black villains the porters — the necessity and despair 
of travelers, the scum of slave-gangs, and the fugitives from 
justice from every tribe — congregate for hire. And if there is 
any thing in which African travelers are for once agreed, it is, 
that for laziness, ugliness, stupidity, and wickedness, these men 
are not to be matched on any continent in the world." Upon 
such men as these Stanley was obliged to depend. 

Though traveling in this way is more rapid than the other, it 
is very expensive, and has many diflSculties not encountered by 
the solitary traveler. The explorer always goes on foot, following 
as far as possible the beaten paths. A late traveler sa3^s : " The 
roads over which the land-trade of equatorial Africa now passes 
from the coast to the interior are mere footpaths, never over a 
foot in breadth, beaten as hard as adamant, and rutted beneath 
the level of the forest-bed by centuries of native traffic. As a 
rule, these foot-paths are marvellously direct. Like the roads of 
the old Roman, they move straight on through every thing, — 
ridge and mountain and valley, — never shying at obstacles, nor 
anywhere turning aside to breathe. No country in the world is 
better supplied with paths. Every village is connected with 
some other village, everj'^ tribe with the next tribe, and it is 
possible for a traveler to cross Africa without being once out of 
a beaten track." 

But if the tribes using these roads are destroyed, the roads are 
discontinued, and soon become obstructed by the rapid growth 
of the underbrush; or, if the route lies through unknown regions 
outside the great caravan-tracks, the paths are very different 
from those desci'ibed by Mr. Drummond, for the way often lies 
through swamps and morass, or thick woods, or over high moun- 
tain-passes, or is lost in a wilderness of waters. 

The great difficulty in these expeditions is to obtain food. As 
supplies cannot be carried, they must be procured from the 
natives. Very few tribes can furnish food for a force of six 
hundred men (the number with Stanley); and when they have 
the food, they demand exorbitant prices. Often the natives not 
only refuse food to the famished travelers, but oppose them with 
such arms as they have; and theurit is necessary, in self-defence, 
to fire upon them. 

120 National Geographic Magazine. 

The greatest difficulty the explorer meets comes either directly 
or indirectly from the opposition of the slave-trader. Formerly 
the slave-trader was not found in equatorial Africa; but, since the 
explorer has opened the way, the slave-trader has penetrated far 
into the interior, and is throwing- obstacles in the way of the 
entry of Europeans into Africa. When it was decided that 
Stanley should relieve Emin Pacha, he was left to choose his 
route. He met Schweinfui-th, Junker, and other African 
travelers, in Cairo. They advised him to go by his former route 
directly from Zanzibar to the Victoria Nyanza. The dangers 
and difficulties of this route, and the warlike character of the 
natives, he well knew. The route by the Kongo to Wadelai had 
never been traveled, and he thought the difficulties could not be 
greater than by the old route; and, beside, he proceeded much 
farther into the interior by steamer on the Kongo, which left a 
much shorter distance through the wilderness than by the Zanzi- 
bar route. On arriving at Zanzibar, he made an arrangement 
with Tippo-Tip, the great Arab trader and slave-dealer, for a 
large number of porters. They sailed from Zanzibar to the 
Kongo, where Stanley arrived in February, 1887. He then 
sailed up the Kongo, and arrived in June at the junction of the 
Aruvimi with the Kongo, a shoi't distance below Stanley Falls. 
Stanley believed that the Aruvimi and the Welle were the same 
stream, and that by following up this river he would be on the 
direct route to Wadelai. Subsequent investigations have shown 
that he was mistaken. About the 1st of July he left the Kongo, 
expecting to reach Emin Pacha in October, 1887. No definite 
information has been received from him from that time to the 
present. He le^ Tippo-Tip in command at Stanley Falls, and 
expected that a relief expedition would follow. . There were great 
delays in organizing this expedition, from the difficulty of ob- 
taining men, and it was thought that Tippo-Tip was unfaithful. 
The men were finally procured, and the expedition left Aruvimi 
in June, 1888, under command of Major Barttelot. A day or 
two after they started, Major Barttelot was murdered by one of 
his private servants. The expedition returned to the Kongo, and 
was re-organized under Lieut. Jamieson. He was taken ill, and 
died just as he was ready to start, and no one has been found to 
take his place; and that relief expedition was abandoned. Re- 
ports say that Stanley found the route more difficult than he 
anticipated ; heavy rainfall, rivers, swamps, and marshes ob- 

Africa^ its Pad mid Future. 121 

structed the way; that the season was sickly, and a large part 
of his followers died long before he could have reached Emin 

The reports of his capture, and of his safe return to the 
Aruvimi River, are known to all. These may or may not be 
true. Although we have not heard from Stanley for a year 
and a half, yet it by no means follows that he is dead ; for 
Livingstone, Stanley, and other explorers have been lost for a 
longer time, and have afterward found their way back to the 
coast. No man has greater knowledge of the country through 
which his route lay, or of the character of the natives, or the 
best manner of dealing with them. Emin Pacha was encamped 
quietly for nearly two years at Wadelai ; and Stanley, in like 
manner, may have been compelled to remain at some inland 
point and raise his own provisions. 

The Future of Africa. 

It is impossible to prophesy the future of any country, much 
less that of Africa, where the phj'sical features have left so 
marked an impression upon its inhabitants, and where the animal 
life is so different from that of the other continents. It is rather 
by differentiating Africa from other countries that we obtain 
any data from which to form an opinion of its future. 

Africa, as we have seen, is surrounded by a fringe of Euro- 
pean settlements. What effect will these settlements have upon 
Africa? Will the European population penetrate the interior, 
and colonize Africa ? Will it subjugate or expel the Africans, 
or will they fade away like the Indians of our country ? If 
colonization by Europeans fail, will the African remain the sole 
inhabitant of the country as barbarian or civilized ? 

Egypt is now controlled by the English, but its climate is too 
unhealthy, and its surrounding too unfavorable, for Englishmen; 
and we may safely assume that their occupation will be tempo- 
rary, or, if permanent, not as colonists. They will remain, as in 
India, foreigners and rulers, until the subjugated people rise in 
their power and expel them, and return to their old life. The 
English rule, though possibly beneficial to Egypt, is hated by the 
natives, who demand Egypt for the Egyptians. 

Leaving Egypt, we pass an uninhabitable coast, until we come 
to the French colonies of Algiers. It is nearly sixty years since 

122 National Geographic Magazine. 

the French took possession of Algiers. There has been a large 
emigration from France ; but the climate, while excellent as a 
winter climate for invalids and others, is unfavorable for a per- 
manent habitation, especially for infants. The births in one 
year have never equalled the deaths. When Algeria was first 
conquered by the French, it was a wilderness, but is now a 
garden. The cultivation of the grape has been most successful, 
and extensive iron- mines have been opened. The French are 
gradually pushing their way from Algiers across the desert to 
Timbuctu, and also from Senegambia to Timbuctu. The ex- 
pense of maintaining Algeria has greatly exceeded any revenue 
derived from it. Though many doubt the political wisdom of 
retaining it, yet the French have too much pride to acknowledge 
that the enterprise has been in any way a failure; and they will 
undoubtedly hold it, and perhaps found an empire. Senegambia 
and the coast of Guinea, claimed by the French and English, are 
low and moist, filled with swamps and lagoons, which will pre- 
vent any European colonization. 

South of the Kongo, the Portuguese claim a wide section of 
country running across Africa. They have occupied this countiy 
over two hundred years. They have done little towards coloniz- 
ing, and only hold a few trading-posts on the coast and in the 
interior, dealing principally in slaves, ivory, and gold ; and it 
may well be doubted whether they have the stamina or ability to 
colonize this country, or to produce any permanent impression 
upon it. 

The soiith portion of Afr'ca, from the 18th j)arallel on the 
Atlantic to the 26th parallel on the Indian Ocean, is generally 
fertile; and the climate is favorable to Europeans, and is capable 
of sustaining a large population. The growth of Cape Colony 
has been very slow, but a more rapid growth is anticipated. We 
believe it will be permanently occupied by the English, who will 
disposses the aborigines, and foi-m a great and permanent 
English State. The coast of Zanzibar, occupied by the Germans 
and English, is rich and fertile, the climate unhealthy; but when 
the mountain-ranges are crossed, and the elevated plateaus and 
lake regions are reached, the interior resembles the Kongo region. 
Massaua and Suakin, on the Red Sea, are unhealthy and worth- 
less, unless connected by railroad with the upper Nile. 

There remains equatorial Africa, including the French settle- 
ments on the Ogowe, the region about Lake Chad, the Kongo 

Africa, its Past and Ftiture. 123 

and its tributaries, and the lake region. The more we learn of 
equatorial Africa, the greater its natural advantages appear to 
be. The rivers open up the country in a favorable manner for 
trade and settlement. Its elevation from 2,000 to 3,000 feet will 
render it healthy, though this elevation is only equal to from ten 
degrees to fourteen degrees of north latitude. Here all the 
fruits of the torrid zone, the fruits and most of the grains of the 
temperate zone, cotton, India-rubber, and sugar-cane, are found. 

The country has been unhealthly, a great many Eui'opeana 
have died, and few have been able to remain more than two or 
three years without returning to Europe to recuperate. These 
facts seem to show that the climate is not healthy for Europeans. 
But the mortality has been much greater than it will be when 
the country is settled and the unhealthy stations have been ex- 
changed for healthier localities. Every new country has its 
peculiar dangers, which must be discovered. When these obsta- 
cles are understood and overcome, Europeans will probably 
occupy all this region, and it will become a European colony. 

If European colonization is successful, European civilization 
will come into contact with African barbarism. Where such a 
contest is carried on in a country where the climate is equally 
favorable to the two races, it can only result in the subjugation 
or destruction of the inferior race. If the climate is unfavorable 
to the white population, then, unless the inferior is subjected to 
the superior, the white population will fail in colonizing the 
country, and the Negro will either slowly emerge from barbar- 
ism, or return to his original condition. 

The Negro has never developed any high degree of civiliza- 
tion ; and even if, when brought into contact with civilization, 
he has made considerable progress, when that contact ceased he 
has deteriorated into barbarism. But, on the other hand, he has 
never faded away and disappeared, like the Indian of America 
and the natives of the Southern Archipelago. 

Nature has spread a bountiful and never-ending harvest before 
the Negro, and given to him a climate where neither labor of 
body or mind, neither clothing nor a house, is essential to his 
comfort. All nature invites to an idle life ; and it is only 
through compulsion, and contact with a life from without, that 
his condition can be improved. 

In Africa a contest is going on between civilization and 
barbarism, Christianity and Mohammedanism, freedom and slav- 

124: National Geographic Magazine. 

ery, such as the world has never seen. Who can fail to be 
interested in the results of this conflict ? We know that Africa 
is capable of the very highest civilization, for it was the birth- 
place of all civilization. To it we are indebted for the origin of 
all our arts and sciences, and it possesses to-day the most won- 
dei'ful works of man. Let us hope that Africa, whose morning 
was so bright, and whose night has been so dark, will yet live 
to see the light of another and higher civilization. 

1. Uiilisli. 2. Kiviicli. 


SiKuiisli. r,. IiaUiui. 6. 


OeograpJiy of the Land. 125 


By Herbert G. Ogden. 

In preparing this first report as one of the vice-presidents of 
the Society, I have been obliged to interpret the intent of our by- 
laws in the requirement that the vice-presidents shall present at 
the end of the year summaries of the work done throughout the 
world in their several departments. The amount of information 
that can be accumulated during twelve months, if referred to in 
detail, is simply appalling ; to compile it for the Society would 
be a great labor, and when completed it would be largely the dupli- 
cation of the work of others, already accessible in the journals of 
other societies, and in special publications devoted to this and kin- 
dred subjects. That such a detailed historical joui-nal should be 
maintained by the Society hardly admits of a question. I had 
hoped to see one inaugurated during the first year of our work 
that would have embraced all the departments of the Society : 
but must confess with some disappointment, to having been too 
sanguine and to have over-estimated the interest that might be 
excited in the members of a new organization. We need a jour- 
nal of the kind for reference ; for our associates, ourselves, and 
our many friends we hope to attract by the information we may 
supply them. But it cannot well be compiled by one man en- 
gaged upon the every-day affairs of life, and I have not made any 
attempt in that direction, even in those matters circumscribed by 
the section of the Society under my charge. 

I have found little in the affairs of Europe that it seems neces- 
sary to bring to your attention ; indeed, the past twelve months 
seem quite barren of any great events in the progress of Geo- 
graphic knowledge. This, perhaps, is to be expected at intervals 
of longer or shorter periods, as it is governed by peoples of the 
most advanced civilization, who have availed themselves of all 
the progress of science to explore and develop the land on which 
they live, until there is little left of nature to be learned, unless 
science shall determine new truths to bind by stronger links the 
truths already found. We may. look for the greatest changes 
here, both now and in the future, in the work of man pressing on 

126 National Geographic Magazine. 

in the eager strife to improve his condition above others less 
fortunately situated ; seeking advantage in the peculiarities of 
his environment to open new channels of trade that will divert 
the profits from the older routes. 

Of many schemes suggested in furtherance of such ends, there 
are few that develoj:) into I'ealities within a generation. Nature 
may be against them when the facts are fully learned, the profit 
may not warrant the outlay, and political considerations may keep 
in abeyance that which otherwise may be admitted to be good. 
Thus the grand scheme to make an inland sea of the Desert of 
Sahara is impossible of execution from the fact that the desert is 
many hundreds of feet higher than the ocean. The long talked 
of project to cut the Isthmus of Corinth, now accomplished, was 
a theme of discussion for twenty centuries or more. And the 
later project to tunnel the English Channel we have seen defeated 
through the fears of a few timid men. Perchance the grander 
one, now introduced with some seriousness, to bridge the channel, 
may meet with a better fate. 

The route for the ship canal to connect the Baltic and the 
North Seas, is reported to have been determined upon and the' 
preliminary work of construction to have been commenced. And 
we learn that a proposition is being discussed to connect the 
Danube with the Baltic Sea by way of the Vistula. However 
chimerical such a project may seem to us, we cannot at this time 
discredit those who believe in it. It shows that restless spirit 
that predominates the age, striving for the mastery of the com- 
mercial world. Politically, Europe has seen no geographical 
change, but those conversant with affairs apprehend a military 
catastrophe at no distant date, that will probably embroil the 
stronger nations and endanger the existence of the weaker ones. 

Having practically acquired a knowledge of their territories, 
the people of these nations are diligently seeking to develop 
greater things in the study of all the earth, and we have thus 
seen formed as a means to this end, what is now known as the 
International Geodetic Association. The primary object of this 
Association is to determine the form of the earth. It is an inquiry 
of absorbing interest, and the geodetic work in America must 
eventually contribute an important factor in its solution. We 
may therefore hope that the bill now before the Congress author- 
izing the United States to have representation in the Association, 
will become a law. The free interchange between the continents 

Geography of the Land. 127 

that would thus be established, would be of incalculable benefit 
to both in the prosecution of this important scientific labor. 

If we turn to the adjoining continent of Asia, there is still open 
a large field for Geographic research. Peopled as it has been, 
largely by semi-civilized races for many centuries, we might have 
expected that the book of nature that might be opened would 
long since have been spread before us ; but the exclusiveness of 
this semi-civilization has been a stumbling-block, until it ma}^ be 
said that the wise men of her nations have lived only that the 
masses should not learn. Of the Political Geography of this 
great region we have a fair conception, and of the Physical con- 
ditions it may be said we know them generally. Enlightened 
men have been hammering at the borders with the powerful sup- 
port of progressive nations, and a few have even passed the con- 
fines of exclusiveness and brought back to us marvellous tales of 
ancient grandeur. Men have sought disguise that they might 
tread on the forbidden ground, and many have lost their lives in 
eiforts to gain the secrets that have been so persistently guarded. 
But the march of civilization is not to be thwarted by the semi- 
barbarous ; they may yet impede it, as they have in the past, but 
it can be only for a time ; the impulse is sure to come, when the 
thirst for knowledge and power by the antagonistic races will 
sweep all barriers before it, however strong. The contemplated 
railway across the continent to Vladivostock may be the cxilmi- 
nating step in overcoming these refractory peoples and opening 
their territories to the march of progress. We have seen on our 
own continent the potent influence of these iron ways, and it is 
not too much to believe that even in the strange surroundings of 
the Orient they, will exercise a power against which exclusiveness 
and superstition will be forced to give way. 

In Africa we find still different conditions. A great continent 
believed to contain immense resources, but peopled with dark- 
hued native races, barbarous in their tendencies, and frequently 
deficient in intellect, and yet withal showing at times a savage 
grandeur that excites the admiration of the man, while it attracts 
the interest of the student. We may recall Carthage and Alex- 
andria, and all the wonders of ancient Egypt that live to the con- 
fusion of our own day, while those who patterned them have been 
lost beyond the bounds of even the most ancient history : and 
look with trembling awe upon the degradation that has followed, 
the boundless dissipation of the learning of ages, until we are left 

128 National Geographic Magazine. 

only such remnants that our most cultivated imaginations can 
scarce build a superstructure worthy to raise upon the ruins. 

But a new era is opening, the intelligence of later years is 
spreading over these once fruitful fields, and slowly but surely 
modern ideas are advancing into the midst of the unknown chaos, 
and in time will restore the great advantages that have lapsed in 
the ignorance of ages. The nations of Europe vie with one an- 
other to extend their possessions, and in the mad race for prece- 
dence are reclaiming even the waste places as footholds by which 
they hope to reach the pov/er and wealth they see may be devel- 
oped in the future. Explorers have brought back wondrous tales 
that have excited the cupidity of those who profit in the barter of 
nature's products, until vast schemes have been projected to seize 
the wealth believed to be within easy grasp. 

Daring spirits discover new countries, and through the reports 
of the marvels they have seen, inspire their more cautious coun- 
trymen to venture into unknown fields in the hope of gain. The 
discontented, too, seek isolation and fancied independence in new 
regions, and thus is formed the nucleus that parent countries seize 
upon, encourage, and develop into colonies, that in time may 
revolutionize a continent, and seek a place among the nations of 
the world. This sequence of events has been gradually progress- 
ing in Africa, and has been greatly accelerated by the discoveries 
of recent years. A large section of the interior has now been 
opened to trade and colonization in the formation of the " Congo 
free State." It marks an era in the development of the continent 
that promises to be fruitful of rapid advance. The Geographic 
journals have contained many pages of notes during the year, 
showing the activity of explorers in supplying the Geographical 
details of the more accessible regions. But there is an area nearly 
half as large as that of the United States through which the ex- 
plorer has not yet penetrated ; a field of great interest to Geog- 
raphers, but they may have years yet to wait, before they may 
read the story. 

In the East Indies and among the islands of the Pacific there is 
still work for the Geographer of the most interesting character, 
and, indeed, for the explorer too. Those who depend upon charts 
of the great ocean realize too frequently the imperfect determi- 
nation of the positions of many of these isolated landmarks, and 
the dangers surrounding them. This is more properly work for 
governments than for individuals, and we may hope the day is 

Geography of the Land. 129 

not far distant when American officers may again roam the seas 
in Geographic research, and bring fresh laurels to crown the en- 
terprise of our people. 

The great American continent, the New World as it is called, 
presents an example of progress of which history affords us none 
similar — a marked instance of the power of intelligent persever- 
ance to conquer in new fields and bring under man's dominion 
for his use and welfare even some of the elements themselves. 
The last century has shown a branch of one of the old parent 
stocks, divorced from many of their traditions and left to them- 
selves, imbued with a spirit of progress that has advanced with 
such giant strides, that in a generation we have seen more strange 
things than had come upon the world before in centuries. At 
the birth of our nation the now populous district on the Ohio 
and the Great Lakes was the " far west," roamed over by native 
tribes. The great northwest of to-day was marked upon the 
maps as " unexplored," and the confines of the continent on the 
Pacific were known more on the faith of good reports than the 
knowledge of observation ; while that vast territory west of the 
Mississippi was not known at all, or only through the legends 
transmitted from the " Fathers " who had partly occupied it in 
following their holy calling. And yet within half a century ex- 
plorers have traversed nearly eveiy square mile, science has dis- 
covered in it treasures of knowledge that have taught the world : 
and instead of a vast region of wandering tribes, we find a civili- 
zation, energetic, progressive, and still pressing on to reclaim 
even that which has been considered waste. Indeed, so rapidly 
have the choice areas been occupied, that it may be but a few 
years when none will be left, and the question of over-po23ulation 
may press upon us as to-day it presses upon older nations. While 
this state of affairs may not excite present alarm, it is a matter of 
congratulation that the Congress at its last session provided the 
initial step for an exhaustive examination of the great arid region, 
to determine what portion of it may be reclaimed by irrigation. 

And in Alaska the desirability of a better knowledge of our 
possessions has been emphasized by the fear of international com- 
plications on the boundary, which has resulted in a small appro- 
priation by the Congress for surveys, with a view to obtaining a 
better knowledge of the country, whereby a more reasonable de- 
limitation of the boundary can be made. 

130 National Geographic Magazine. 

It is gratifying to note that the Bureaus of the Government 
service devoted to the practical development of the economic re- 
sources of our great territory, have been conducted during the- 
year with the energy that has marked their progress heretofore. 
But it is yet too early to place a value upon the special results of 
the year's work, and I will leave their consideration, therefore, to 
my successor. 

I look upon the publications of the Topographical Surveys of the 
States of New Jersey and Massachusetts as the most noteworthy 
Geographic productions in this country of recent years. Massa- 
chusetts has been the first State to avail herself of the full facili- 
ties offered by the General Government in preparing maps of 
their territories on working scales, although New Jersey was 
earlier in the field and obtained all the assistance that could be 
rendered by the laws in force at the time. The expense of the 
Survey in Massachusetts has been borne about equally between 
the State and United States, exclusive of the trigonometrical 
work ; and the total cost to the State being so light, we may 
hope eventually to see similar, or even more detailed work, un- 
dertaken by all the States of the Union. The atlas sheets thus 
far produced are most pleasing specimens of the cartographer's 
art, each feature or class of detail having been given a weight 
that permits easy reading without producing undue prominence 
in any. In the atlas sheets of New Jersey, published by the 
State, the same admirable effects have been produced, but in a 
different style of treatment, the questions involved being more 
compli(;ated through the introduction of greater detail, Massa- 
chusetts is also in the lead in prosecuting a precise determination 
of town boundaries by a systematic reference of all corner marks 
to the stations of the triangulation that now covers the State ter- 
ritory. The expense of this work is borne by the State, with the 
exception of a small amount in salaries to United States officers 
detailed to execute portions of the work under existing laws. The 
total cost will probably approximate the total cost of the Topo- 
graphical Survey, but it is claimed that when completed the great 
advantages to be derived from it will result in large savings to 
the people of the State. 

Our neighbors in the Dominion of Canada have been active of 
late years in developing their resources. The completion of the 
Canadian Pacific Railway has opened a large fertile territory for 
settlement, and the railway itself promises to become a route for 

Geography of the Land. 131 

international traffic in serious rivalry with the transcontinental 
roads in the United States. Projects have also been formed for a 
short rail connection to Hudson's Bay, with a view to shipments 
during the summer direct to Europe — but there seems to be reason- 
able question of the practicability of such a route. During the 
past two seasons Canada has also been engaged upon extensive 
explorations in the Northwest territory, along the boundary line 
of Alaska. The parties, I learn, are only just returning from their 
last summer's labors, and it will probably be some time in the 
winter before we can supplement the chapter of a year ago from 
this interesting region. 

But little advance has been made during late years in solving 
the mysteries of the Arctic. In the past summer a party has 
crossed the southern part of Greenland, but advices have not yet 
come to hand that would indicate the value of the exploration. 
A second party was organized to follow the east coast of Green- 
land to the northward, that we may hear from at a later date, 
although reports already received, if true, would indicate the 
effort had been baffled by adverse weather. A few months ago 
an expedition was seriously contemplated by Europeans to the 
frozen seas of the Antarctic. As it was to have been backed by 
energetic business men it doubtless would have been amply fitted 
for its purpose, and we may, therefore, sincerely regret the rumor 
that the project has been postponed — if not abandoned. 

In the Central American States a Congress has been assembled 
to consider the unification of the States under one general gov- 
ernment — a union, the possibility of which has long been dis- 
cussed, but from the jealousy of rival factions has heretofore 
seemed impossible of accomplishment ; but there is some hope 
that the labors of the Congress now in session will prove more 

Our greatest Geographic interest in these States is centered in 
the projects for interoceanic canals. The scheme to cut the Isth- 
mus of Panama, undertaken by the eminent French engineer, De 
Lesseps, has been beset with many difficulties, not the least of 
them arising from the improvident management of those having 
immediate charge of the works. It is impossible to foresee the 
eventual outcome of this great work, as all reports expressing de- 
cided views on the subject are suspected of a coloring from the 
personal opinions of the authors' of them. The original plans 
have been modified to include locks for crossing "a summit level." 

132 National Geographic Magazine. 

This is stated to be only a temporary expedient to secure the 
opening of the canal at an early date, and that eventually the 
work will be completed on the original plan of a " through cut." 
It seems evident from the latest reports that work will be con- 
tinued as long as money is forthcoming to meet the expenses, and 
as the modified scheme to overcome the high land by locks instead 
of a through cut, greatly simplifies the engineering problems, there 
is a probability of the canal becoming an accomplished fact. A 
second route by way of the San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua, 
that has also been under discussion for many years, has recently 
been energetically advocated by American engineers, with the 
result of the actual location of a line and careful cross-section- 
ing during the past year. A company has been formed and ob- 
tained a charter from the State of Vermont, and as it is repre- 
sented to be backed by abundant capital, we may, ere many years, 
have the gratification of seeing an interoceanic canal opened 
under American auspices. 

Many speculations have been indulged in as to the probable 
effect of a canal through this Isthmus on the carrying trade of 
the world, the impetus it might give to the opening up of new 
commercial relations, and even the effect it may have in advanc- 
ing our civilization to distant nations. Such speculations are 
hardly pertinent to this report, but we may well reflect upon the 
changes that have been wrought since the opening of the canal 
through the Isthmus of Suez, and conceive, if we can, the level- 
ing up that may accrue to the political divisions of the western 
world from the same influences that will cut the channel through 
her Isthmus. 

South America has been free from serious agitation until a 
recent date ; although some of the States have not failed to show 
the usual internal dissensions in political affairs. Late advices 
intimate a possible difiiculty between Venezuela and England 
relative to the control of a large territory embracing the mouth 
of the Orinoco River, which, should it result in the permanent 
occupation of the disputed territory by the European power, 
may wield a marked influence in the development of this section 
of the continent. 

A project that has long been agitated, to construct a continen- 
tal railway that would give direct rail communication with the 
northern continent, has recently been resumed, and we can but 
hope with an earnestness that will lead to its accomplishment. 

Geography of the Land. 133 

Large areas of this interesting country have not yet been revealed 
to us, nor can we expect to acquire a full knowledge of its Geo- 
graphic wonders until the means of internal communication have 
become more assured. 

The recent inauguration of a Geographical Society in Peru is 
also an important step towards our acquirement of more detailed 
information, and doubtless will redound to the credit of its found- 
ers in the interest it will stimulate in kindred societies over the 

Geology is a science so intimately connected with Geography 
that I should feel delinquent did I not include a reference to it in 
this report, however inadequate my remarks may be to do justice 
to the subject. 

To Geographers the origin of the varied distribution of the 
land and water, the cause and growth of mountains, plains, 
oceans, lakes and rivers, the great changes that have taken place 
on the face of the earth in times past, is of absorbing interest, 
rivaled only by their desire for perfect knowledge of that which 
may be seen to-day. Had the prehistoric man been gifted with 
the intelligence of his descendants in the present epoch, he would 
have left for us a record that would have been valuable indeed 
and cleared our way of much that now is speculation, and but 
too often food for words. True it is, however, that if the 
mysteries of the past were revealed to us we should lose the 
pleasures their study affords and perhaps there would follow a 
degeneration of species through the loss of stimulus they now 
provide. How long ago man lived and might have made a rec- 
ord is still a disputed question, but one that involves too, the rec- 
ord of the earth herself. The association of human remains in 
the Glacial drift brings that epoch in the earth's history nearer to 
us by several hundred thousand years, and instead of speculating 
upon it as having occurred nearly a million years ago, geologists 
must consider whether it was not probably coincident with the 
most recent eccentricity of the earth which astronomers teach us 
happened about ten or fifteen thousand years ago. Geology must 
also fit her facts to mathematical science if we give credence to 
latest computations. A mathematician has now advanced the the- 
ory that at the average depth of about five miles below the surface 
there is a belt of " no strain," the result of opposing forces above 
and below it, a belt that from the nature of the case is impenetra- 
ble, through which, what is above cannot pass to what is below, 
and what is below cannot pass to what is above, a condition that 

134 National Geographic Magazine. 

would confine the origin of all seismical and volcanic disturban- 
ces and their consequent Geogra;phical changes, to a mere shell of 
the crust.* The result of the computation is certainly interest- 
ing and we may hope will not be lost sight of in future discus- 
sions, however it may share in gaining support or opposition. It 
is based upon an assumption of the temperature when the earth 
began to cool, to assume a lower temperature draws the belt 
nearer to the surface and a higher temperature is believed to be 
inconsistent with our knowledge of what heat may effect. This 
belt is stated to be gradually sinking, however, and the computa- 
tion, therefore, involves a term representing time, and I venture to 
suggest as estimates of Geologic time are generally indefinite and 
seem to be inexhaustible, an abundance can probably be supplied 
to sink the belt deep enough for all theoretical purposes. 

More interesting to Geographers are the conceptions of ancient 
forms suggested by the views recently advanced by Prof. Shaler 
in a late number of Science (June 15, 1888), on "The Crenitic 
Hypothesis and Mountain Building." To let the imagination have 
full play, we may conceive that where we now have extensive 
mountain ranges, there were formerly great plains of sedimenta- 
tion, and where we see the process of sedimentation active to-day 
there may be great mountains in the future. And also in his 
inquiry into the " Origin of the divisions between the layers of 
stratified rocks " (Proced. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., vol. xxiii), we 
may be carried away with the immensity of the changes sug- 
gested. The recurring destruction of submarine life to contrib- 
ute in the building of the rocks of the Continents : the appar- 
ently endless cycles of emergence of the land and subsidence of 
the waters, to leave the Geographical conditions we see to day, 
furnish additional evidence of the wonders of the past and force 
upon us anew the realization of how little in the great evolution 
is the epoch in which we live. 

American Geologists have advanced the knowledge of the 
world; only recently the American methods of Glacial study have 
enabled Salisbury to interpret the terminal moraines of Northern 
Germany (Am. Jour. Science, May, 1888), and that the Science 
is active among our countrymen is evidenced by the formation of 
a Geological Society and the establishment of a magazine de- 

* In the American Geologist for February, 1888, Prof. Reade protests 
against the construction of the theory of a " belt or level of no strain" 
placing the foci of earthquakes and other disturbances in the strata 
above the belt. 

Geography of the Land. 135 

voted exclusively to its interests. America, too, contributed 
largely to the Geologic Congress recently held in London, and it 
is pleasing to note that the next session of the Congress is prom- 
ised for Philadelphia, 

At the suggestion of one of our associates I call the attention 
of the students of the science, and indeed all interested in it, and 
also of Geographers, to a recent publication entitled, " The Build- 
ing of the British Isles," by Jukes-Browne (Scribner & Welford, 
N. Y.). It has been characterized as the best treatise on the evo- 
lution of the land areas which has yet appeared ; from the 
Geologist point of view it is the book of the year. Another 
associate recommends to most attentive consideration the recent 
articles on " Three formations of the Middle Atlantic slope," by 
W J McGee (Am. Journal Science, Feb. -June, 1888), as one of 
the most original essays of recent years. 

It also gives me great pleasure to bring to your attention an 
article on the " Physical Geography of New England," by Wm. 
M. Davis, in a book on the " Butterflies of New England," by S. 
H. Scudder. It is hardly necessary to recommend this publica- 
tion to your perusal, as I doubt not being from the pens of our 
Associates, it will excite a lively interest in those devoted to these 

In conclusion permit me to refer briefly to the "National 
Geographic Magazine," published by the Society, the first number 
of which has recently been placed before you. It is the desire of 
the Committee having charge of this publication to make it a 
journal of influence and usefulness. There is abundant material 
in the Society to furnish the substance, if those who have it at 
command will make legitimate use of their opportunities. It 
would be unfortunate if the text should be confined to the papers 
presented to the Society. It was not the intention of the Board 
of Managers that such should be the case, when the publication 
was determined upon. On the contrary, it was the expectation 
that there would be original communications from many sources: 
essays, reviews and notes on the various subjects of the five 
Departments in which the Society is organized, not necessarily 
from the members, but also from their friends interested in these 
divisions of the general subject. While this expectation has been 
realized in a measure, there is room for improvement and it is 
hoped the future will show an increasing interest and more gen- 
erous contributions. 
December, 1888. 

136 Naticmal Geographic Magazine. 

By George L. Dyer. 

In presenting to the National Geographic Society this first an- 
nual summary of work accomplished in the domain of the Geog- 
raphy of the Sea, I find it impossible satisfactorily to limit the 
range of subjects that may be assigned to it. The great ocean 
is so large a factor in the operations of Nature, that the attempt 
to describe one of its features speedily involves the consideration 
of others lying more or less in that shadowy region which may 
be claimed with equal force by other sections of the Society. It 
is to be understood, therefore, that the following account merely 
touches upon several of the characteristics of the oceanic waters, 
and is not in any sense an attempt to treat them all. 

This being the first report to the Society it has been thought 
advisable to give a brief outline of the progress made in our 
knowledge of the sea since 1749, when Ellis reported depths of 
650 and 891 fathoms off the north-west coast of Africa. Even 
at that time an apparatus was employed to lift water from differ- 
ent depths in order to ascertain its temperature. It does not 
appear that this achievement gave impetus to further efforts in 
this direction, for, except some comparatively small depths and 
a few temperatures recorded by Cook and Forster in their voyage 
around the world in 1772-75, and in 1773 by Phipps in the Arctic, 
at the close of the last century there was but little known of the 
physical conditions of the sea. 

At the beginning of the present century, however, more activ- 
ity was shown by several governments, and expeditions sent out 
by France, England and Russia, in various directions, began to 
lay the foundation of the science of Oceanography. 

Exploration of little known regions was the main purpose of 
most of these expeditions, but attention was paid also to the ob- 
servation and investigation of oceanic conditions, so that accounts 
of soundings, temperatures of sea water at various depths, its sa- 
linity and specific gravity, the drift of currents, etc., form part 
of their records. 

The first to give us a glimpse of the character of the bottom at 
great depths was Sir John Ross, the famous Arctic explorer. 

Geography of the Sea. 137 

While sounding in Ponds Inlet, Baffin Bay, in 1819, by means 
of an ingeniously constructed contrivance called a deep sea clam, 
he succeeded in detaching and bringing up portions of the bot- 
tom from depths as great as 1,000 fathoms. The fact that this 
mud contained living organisms was the first proof of life at 
depths where it was thoitght impossible for it to exist. The 
truth of this discovery, however, was not generally accepted, 
many eminent men of science on both sides of the Atlantic 
contending for and against it, and the question was not finally 
settled until long afterward, in 1860, when, by the raising of a 
broken telegraph cable in the Mediterranean, unimpeachable evi- 
dence of the existence of life at the greatest depths in that sea 
was obtained. The science, however, remained in its infancy un- 
til about 1850, when Maury originated his system of collecting 
observations from all parts of the globe, and by his indomitable 
energy aroused the interest of the whole civilized world in the 
investigation of the physical phenomena of the sea. 

Through Maury's efforts the United States Government issued 
an invitation for a mai'itime conference, Avhich was held in Brussels 
in 1853 and attended by representatives of the governments of Bel- 
gium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Netherlands, Norway, 
Portugal, Russia, Sweden and the United States. The main ob- 
ject of the conference, to devise a uniform system of meteoro- 
logical observations and records, was accomplished. According 
to the agreement, ships' logs were to have columns for recording 
observations of the following subjects : latitude, longitude, mag- 
netic variation, direction and velocity of currents, direction and 
force of wind, serenity of the sky, fog, rain, snow and hail, state 
of the sea, specific gravity and temperature of the water at the 
surface and at different depths. It was also proposed that 
deep-sea soundings should be taken on all favorable occasions, 
and that all other phenomena, such as hurricanes, typhoons, 
tornadoes, waterspouts, whirlwinds, tide-rips, red fog, showers 
of dust, shooting stars, halos, rainbows, aurora borealis, meteors, 
etc., should be carefully described, and tidal observations made 
when practicable. 

The practical results of this conference were great. The sys- 
tematic and uniform collection of data by men of all nations is 
going on uninterruptedly to-day, and is furnishing the means for 
the solution of many of the problems relating to the Geography 
of the Sea. 

138 National Geograjphio Magazine. 

An epoch in the progress of this science is marked by the ap- 
pearance of Maury's Wind and Current Charts, his Physical 
Geography of the Sea, and his Sailing Directions, which contain 
the record of the first deep soundings taken by United States ves- 
sels ; and to the United States, through Maury's efforts, belongs 
the honor of having inaugurated the first regular cruise for the 
purpose of sounding in great depths. 

Under the instructions of Maury the U. S. brig Dolphin, com- 
manded by Lieutenant Lee, and subsequently by Lieutenant Berry- 
man, was detailed in 1851-3 to search for reported dangers in the 
Atlantic, and to sound regularly at intervals of 200 miles going 
and returning. The Dolphin was provided with Midshipman 
Brooke's sounding apparatus and with it succeeded in obtaining 
specimens of the bottom from depths of 2,000 fathoms. About 
the same period the U. S. ships Albany, Plymouth, Congress, 
John Adams, Susquehanna, St. Louis and Saranac also made 
soundings in various localities, and to the U. S. S. Portsmouth, 
in 1853, belongs the honor of having reported the first really 
deep-sea sounding obtained in the Pacific, 2,850 fathoms, in 
about 39° 40' K, and 139° 26' W. 

The practicability of this work was thus fully demonstrated, 
and, although some of the earlier results, through defective 
appliances and lack of experience, were not entirely ti'ustworthy, 
its character and success will always be a tribute to American 
enterprise and ingenuity. 

With the advent of the submarine telegraph the investigation 
of the depth and configuration of the ocean bed became of vital 
importance, and the work of sounding for that purpose was taken 
up with activity ; one of the first voyages in the interest of these 
projects was that of the U. S. S. Arctic, under the command of 
Lieut. O. H. Berryman, in 1856, between St. Johns, Newfound- 
land, and Yalentia, Ireland. 

The civil war naturally put a stop to these operations by United 
States ships. The U. S. schooner Fenimore Cooper was about 
the last engaged in this work, sounding in 1858-59 in the Pacific 
to 3,400 fathoms, and also reporting a sounding of 900 fathoms 
only f of a mile west of Gaspar Rico Reef, in about 14°41' N. and 
168° 56' E. 

The work so well begun by the Americans was quickly taken 
up by other governments, and we find from that time to the pres- 
ent, the records of a large number of expeditions for diverse scien- 

Geography of the Sea. 139 

tific observations in all parts of the world. Continued improve- , 
ments in the appliances and instruments have made the results 
more precise than was possible in the earlier times, and, as the 
data accumulate, the bathymetric charts of the oceans are be- 
comins: more accurate. Not until this work is much further ad- 
vanced, however, shall we be able to arrive at an estimate of the 
depths and weights of the oceans at all comparable to our knowl- 
edge of the heights and weights of the various great land masses 
above sea level. 

Other important results of these expeditions have been the 
verification of many reported elevations of the ocean bed formerly 
considered doubtful, the discovery of new ones, and proof of 
the non-existence of others, which had been reported as dangers 
to navigation. 

The Geography of the Sea reached a decidedly more advanced 
stage by the inception of several great scientific expeditions, of 
which that of the Lightning, in 1868, to the Hebrides and Faroe 
Islands, under the superintendence of Professors Carpenter and 
Wyville Thompson, was the forerunner. This was followed by 
the three years' cruise of the Challenger (Br.) in 18*73-75, the 
Tuscarora (Am.) in 1874, and the Gazelle (Ger.) in 1875, by those 
despatched under the authority of the U. S. Coast Survey and of 
the U. S. Fish Commission, and others of lesser importance, sent 
out under the auspices of European governments, and by private 
individuals. All of these have contributed in an eminent degree 
to the progress of the science by giving us a better understanding 
of the physical and biological conditions of the sea at all depths. 
Special mention must be made of the splendid work that is being 
done continually by the expeditions sent out by the TJ. S. Fish 
Commission. This branch of the United States service, originally 
established for the investigation of the causes of the decrease in 
the supply of useful food fishes and of the various factors enter- 
ing into that problem, in pursuance of these objects has been prose- 
cuting a detailed inqixiry, embracing deep-sea soundings and 
dredging, observation of temperatures at different depths, trans- 
parency, density and chemical composition of sea-water, investi- 
gation of surface and under currents, etc. ; in other words, mak- 
ing a complete exploration of the physical, natural and economic 
features of the sea, besides collecting a large number of specimens 
of natural history. The expeditions sent out by this Commission 
have brought to light from the deep beds of the ocean an ex- ' 

140 National Geographic Magazine. 

traordinary variety of animal life, previously unknown to science. 
Few vessels have furnished a greater number of deep-sea sound- 
ings than the F. C. S. Albatross. This steamer has explored 
fishing grounds on the east and west coasts of the continent ; 
and since the beginning of last year has made a cruise from the 
North to the South Atlantic along the east coast of South Amer- 
ica, through Magellan Strait, and northward along the west coast 
to Panama and the Galapagos Islands, ^nd thence to San Fran- 
cisco and Alaska ; the scenes of her latest operations have been 
the plateau between the Alaskan coast and TJnalaska and the 
banks off San Diego, California. 

A large share in the progressive state of the science of the 
Geography of the Sea must also be credited to the systematic 
collection of marine observations by the Hydrographic Offices 
and other institutions all over the world. This forms the stock 
from which, as I have already indicated, must be drawn, through 
intelligent reduction and deduction, a better knowledge of the 
intricate laws governing the various phenomena of the sea and 

Oceanic Cieculation. 

The existence of currents in certain localities was known at a 
very early date, and navigators in their voyages to the new world 
soon discovered the Gulf Stream and other currents of the Atlan- 
tic. The first current charts were published more than two hun- 
dred years ago. Theories were soon advanced to explain the 
causes, one group of scientific men attributing the origin of cur- 
rents to differences of level produced by an unequal distribution 
of atmospheric pressure over the oceans, another set connecting 
the tidal phenomena with the cause of ocean currents, and still 
another finding in the rotation of the earth a sufficient reason for 
their existence. The polar origin of the cold deep water found 
in low latitudes has long been considered probable, and has given 
rise to a theory of a general oceanic circulation in a vertical and 
horizontal direction, produced by diffei'ences of temperature and 
density. Recent theoretical investigations, however, seem to in- 
dicate that these causes alone are incapable of producing cur- 
rents, and, to-day, the theory that the winds are mainly responsi- 
ble for all cuj-rent movements very largely predominates. Ben- 
jamin Franklin was probably the first who recognized in the 
trade winds the cause of the westerly set in the tropics, and Ren- 

Geography of the Sea. 141 

nel soon after made the division of drift and stream currents. 
The objections which have appeared against the wind theory 
have been met with the reply that the present state of oceanic 
movements is the result of the work done by the winds in count- 
less thousands of years. 

Current phenomena is briefly summarized as follows by one of 
the latest authorities on the subject : 

1. The greater portion of the current movement of the ocean 
must be regarded as a drift, produced by the prevailing winds, 
whose mean direction and force are the measures for the mean 
set and velocity of the current. 

2. Another group of currents, and in fact a fraction of all cur- 
rents, consists of compensating or supply streams, created by the 
necessity of replacing the drifted water in the windward portion 
of the drift region. 

3. A third group results from drifts deflected by the config- 
xiration of the coasts ; these which are denominated free cur- 
rents, quickly pass into compensating streams. 

4. The deflecting force of the rotation of the earth is consid- 
ered as of subordinate importance, but may have some influence 
on currents that are wholly or in part compensating or free. 

Late investigations of the Gulf Stream by the TJ. S. Coast 
Survey give interesting facts in regard to that notable current. 

A satisfactory explanation of the cause of the stream has not 
yet been found, but many believe, with Franklin, that the power- 
ful trade drift entering the Gulf of Mexico through the broad 
channel between Yucatan and Cuba presses the water as a strong 
current through Florida Strait, where the stream is turned to the 
northward along the coast. Since 1 850 American naval oflicers 
have added greatly to our knowledge of the characteristics of 
this stream, particularly within the last decade, during which 
notable investigations have been carried on by Commanders 
Bartlett and Sigsbee and Lieut. Pillsbury, U. S. N., under the 
direction of the U. S. Coast Survey, and by Lieutenant Com- 
mander Tanner, U. S. N., in the Fish Commission steamer Alba- 

Of special importance are the valuable and interesting results 
in regard to tidal action in the stream obtained by Lieut. Pills- 
bury, U. S. N., in the Coast Survey steamer Blake, from observ- 
ations begun by him in 1885 at the narrowest part of Florida 
Strait, between Fowey Rocks and Gun Cay (Bah.), and continued 

142 National Geographic Magazine. 

since between Rebecca Shoal and Cuba, and between Yucatan 
and Cape San Antonio (Cuba), and off Cape Hatteras, 

During the past year Lieut. Pillsbury extended the field of 
operations to the passages between the islands encircling the 
Caribbean Sea, and in order to study the Atlantic flow outside 
the limits of the trade drift a station was to have been occupied 
about 700 miles to the north-east of Barbados ; this, however, 
was unfortunately prevented by bad weather. 

The deductions from the observations in Florida Strait showed 
very clearly a daily and a nionthly variation in the velocity of the 
stream, the former having a range of 2^ knots, and reaching a maxi- 
mum on the average about 9*^ 9™ before and ^^ 37"" after the moon's 
upper transit, and the monthly variation reaching its maximum 
about two days after the maximum declination of the moon. 
The variations in this section were found greater on the western 
than on the eastern side of the strait, and the axis of the stream, 
or position of strongest surface flow, was located by Lieutenant 
Pillsbury \\^ miles east of Fowey Rocks, and, farther north, 
about 17 miles east of Jupiter Light. The average surface cur- 
rent at this section was Bf knots, the maximum b\ knots, and the 
minimum If knots per hour. The results also indicate that 
when the current is at its maximum the surface flow is faster 
than at any depth below it, but when at its minimum the veloc- 
ity at a depth of 15 fathoms or even down to 65 fathoms is 
greater than at the surface, and that there is at times a current 
running south along the bottom in all parts of the stream except 
on the extreme eastern side. 

The results of the investigations in 1887 and 1888 have not yet 
been published, but from information kindly furnished by the 
authorities of the Coast Survey, I am able to give a brief outline 
of the more prominent facts ascertained. 

In the section between Rebecca Shoal and Cuba the daily vari- 
ation in velocity was found as prominent as in Florida Strait, the 
mean time of eight maxima corresponding to G*" 18™ before, and 
that of three maxima to 3^ 25™ after the moon's transit. The 
axis of the stream in this section was found near the center of 
the current prism, and the flow was easterly and inclined on 
either side toward the axis. The axis seemed to occupy a higher 
level than other parts of the sti'eam, and this appears to be borne 
out by the fact that about half the number of the current bottles 
thrown out in Florida Strait on the west side of the axis were re- 

Geogrwphy of the Sea. 143 

covered along the east coast of Florida, while of those thi*own 
out east of the axis not a single one was heard from. As a 
rule it was found that the stronger the current the more constant 
the direction and the deeper the stratum. Remarkable fluctua- 
tions in the flow near the axis were noted, the velocity increasing 
sometimes one knot in ten or fifteen minutes, and then as sud- 
denly decreasing again. Lieutenant Pillsbury attributes this, 
however, to a serpentine movement of the maximum flow, which 
would sometimes strike the station occupied by the Blake. The 
edge of the stream was found at about 30 miles south of Re- 
becca Shoal light-house. 

Between Yucatan and Cape San Antonio the stream was found 
flowing about north, and the line of maximum velocity corresponds 
on the average to lO'' before and to 2'^ 20"' after the moon's tran- 
sit. The excessive variations were like those in Florida Strait, on 
the west side of the stream, and the maximum velocity of 6:^ 
knots was found about 5 miles off the 100-fathom line of Yuca- 
tan Bank. The eastern edge of the stream lies about 20 miles 
west of Cape San Antonio, and between this edge and the island, 
eddy currents exist. At the time the easternmost station in 
this section was first occupied, the declination of the moon was 
low and the set of the surface current north-easterly. At a high 
south declination of the moon the surface current was found 
south-easterly in direction, and east or south-east below the sur- 
face. The normal flow below the surface was in each case from 
the Qulf into the Caribbean Sea, and this makes it probable that 
the station was situated inshore of the average limit of the 
stream. On Cape San Antonio Bank the currents are tidal, 
flood running northward and ebb southward. On the Yucatan 
Bank the currents were also tidal, but as the edge of the bank 
is approached the stronger flow of the Gulf Stream predominates. 
The monthly variation in velocity, which was found clearly de- 
fined at the first two sections occupied, appeared at this section 
to be obliterated by anomalies not existing at the former. 

Off Cape Hatteras the Blake accomplished the remarkable feat 
of remaining at anchor in 1,852 fathoms, and this with a surface 
cui-rent of over 4 knots. Two stations were occupied, and similar 
variations in velocity were observed as at the other stations. The 
notable feature at this station was the discovery of tidal action 
beneath the Gulf Stream, the currents at 200 fathoms depth 
changing their direction very regularly, the average current flow- 

144 National Geographic Magazine. 

ing about S. S. E. \ E. for V hours and K N. W. \ W. for a little 
over 5 hours. 

The first section investigated in 1888 was in the equatorial 
drift between Tobago and Barbados, where seven stations were 
occupied. The axis of the stream was found west of the middle, 
or nearer the South American shore, and the average direction was 
towards the north. At none of the stations did the current set in 
the direction of the wind, although the trades were blowing at 
all times with a force of from 2 to 1. The daily variation was 
also here very pronounced, the average time of maximum flow 
occurring about 5'^ 56'" after the moon's transit. At 65 and 130 
fathoms depth the current, at three of the stations occupied, was 
north-westerly; at one south-easterly. The velocity at 130 fath- 
oms was greater than at 65 fathoms, and greater at the surface 
than at 15 and 30 fathoms. 

At all of the three stations between Grenada and Trinidad 
tidal action was observed, with deflections due to local influences. 

The passage between Santa Lucia and St. Vincent appears to 
be in the line of the equatorial stream. At each of the five sta- 
tions in this passage tidal action was pronounced, the currents 
setting in and out of the Caribbean Sea at some depth. The 
daily variation in this passage reaches a maximum at about 6'^ 3"^ 
after the moon's transit, and a minimum when the moon is on the 
meridian. The currents entering the Caribbean Sea through this 
passage are but 100 fathoms in depth, but there is probably an 
almost equal volume flowing out below that depth. 

Between the Windward Islands the currents flow generally 
westward, but tidal action is everywhere apparent. 

To the east of Desirade the currents at all observed depths 
have a northerly direction, fluctuating between about N. E. by 
E. to N. W. by N. 

In the eastern part of the Anegada Passage the surface current 
flows into the Caribbean Sea in directions varying between S. S. 
W. and S. E., but the submarine current down to 130 fathoms 
flows in a direction lying between north and east. 

In the more western part of the passage the currents are more 
complex, apparently on account of the greater variations in depth 
in the vicinity of the station occupied. 

In the Mona Passage no regular currents were perceptible. 
Between Mona and Puerto Rico the currents observed set out 
of the Caribbean Sea, varying in direction from about W. by N. 

Geogrwphy of the Sea. 145 

to E. N. E., except at 65 fathoms depth, where there appeared to 
be an inward flow. On the western side of the passage, near 
Santo Domingo, the direction of the currents was between S. S. E, 
and S. W. by W. But few observations could be taken on 
account of unfavorable weather. 

In the Windward Passage, on the western side the currents 
from the surface down to 130 fathoms set in the directions lying 
in the S. E. quadrant, and at 200 fathoms the direction changed 
to W. by S. On the eastern side the surface current varied be- 
tween E. N. E. and E. S. E., with about ^ knot velocity. Varia- 
tions in the direction similar in extent characterized also the sub- 
surface currents in the middle and on the eastern side of the 

The average of the observations at these three stations gives 
but a small volume of water passing in either direction. 

In the old Bahama Channel, at the station north of Cayo 
Romano (island off the north coast of Cuba) the currents at and 
near the surface set south of east ; at 65 fathoms, however, the 
direction varies fi'om about N. W. to E. The deeper current 
of great volume flowed continually to the north of west with a 
velocity of over 1-^ knots at depths of 130 and 200 fathoms. 

Outside the Bahamas, to the north of Great Abaco, a slight cur- 
rent flows about N. W. on the surface and down to 30 fathoms ; 
at 65 fathoms depth the direction changes to a point more west- 
erly, and at 130 fathoms to a point more easterly than the set of 
the surface current. The maximum in the daily variation at this 
station occurs about 1 2^ after the moon's transit. 

The observations so far as completed by Lieutenant Pillsbury 
furnish the most valuable data we have at present concerning the 
Gulf Stream, and it is hoped that further investigation and the 
analytical treatment of these observations will clearly develop 
the dynamic laws involved and lead us to a correct theory of cur- 
rent phenomena in general. 

Tidal Phenomena. 

The causes for many of the inequalities in the tidal elements 
observed at different places have not yet been satisfactorily ex- 
plained. The phenomena are dependent on many purely terres- 
trial conditions. While we are able to ascertain with tolerable 
accuracy from certain constants, derived from observation, the 
times and heights of the tides, the problem to compute theoret- 

146 National Geographic Magazine. 

ically the tides of an ideal ocean of known depth and configura- 
tion remains still unsolved. According to Ferrel our present 
knowledge of tidal phenomena is comparable to that possessed 
2,000 years ago of the science of astronomy. 

Temper A.TURE of the Sea. 

The temperature of sea water had already been observed by 
Ellis, in 1749, in the Atlantic, and subsequent expeditions have 
furnished a great number of temperature observations in various 
seas and for various depths. The diversity of instruments and 
of methods employed by the earlier observers, and the faulty 
methods of recording, have made the uniform reduction of many 
of these observations difficult or impossible. The most complete 
and valuable collection of these older observations up to 1868, 
with an account of the instruments and methods used by each 
observer, was published by Prestwich, in 1876, in the Philo- 
sophical Transactions, Vol, 165. 

With the advent of the great scientific expeditions, which were 
supplied with modern and refined instruments, our knowledge 
of the thermal conditions of the sea has progressed immensely, 
and we are now able to construct charts of all the oceans, show- 
ing the distribution of the isotherms with considerable accuracy. 

The annual average surface temperature has been found higher 
in the Indian Ocean than in either the Atlantic or Pacific ; the 
North Atlantic is slightly warmer than the North Pacific, but the 
South Pacific is warmer than the South Atlantic ; this holds gen- 
erallvgood also for the temperatures between surface and bottom. 

The tempei-ature generally decreases more or less rapidly from 
the surface down to about 500 fathoms, at which depth it is quite 
uniformly between 39° and 40° F. From that depth it decreased 
slowly towards the bottom: in the Polar seas to between 27° and 
28° F.; in the middle and higher latitudes of the northern hemi- 
sphere and at depths of 2,000 to 3,000 fathoms, to between 34° 
and 36° F. ; at the equator and in southern latitudes it remains 
in the neighborhood of 32° F. 

The low temperatures at the bottom are thought to be due to 
a steady but slow circulation of water from the Polar seas 
towards the equator, and, where the circulation is most free and 
unobstructed, as in the South Atlantic, South Pacific and Indian 
Ocean, the bottom temperature is slightly lower than in the 
North Atlantic and North Pacific, both of which are connected 
with the Polar Sea by comparatively narrow and shallow straits. 

, Geography of the Sea. 14T 

The theory of this circulation from the Polar seas is greatly 
strengthened by the facts appearing from the investigation of the 
bathymetric isotherms in inclosed seas, i. e., seas which are 
separated from the deep oceans by submarine barriers. In such 
seas the temperature decreases slowly from the surface down to 
the depth of the barrier, and from there on remains constant to 
the bottom. 

The influence of currents on the surface temperature is very 
marked, cold currents bending the isothermal lines towards the 
equator, and warm currents bending them towards the poles. 
The seasonal changes in surface temperatures are considerable, 
being the least in the tropical zones. 

In the Atlantic Ocean the maximum surface temperature lies 
near the coast of South America, between Para and Cayenne, and 
another maximum occurs near the west coast of Africa, between 
Freetown and Cape Coast Castle. 

The Pacific Ocean shows the peculiarity that the surface tem- 
peratures on the western side are lower than those on the eastern 
side. Between 45° N. and 45° S. the temperature does not fall 
below 50°, but between those parallels and the poles it remains 
most always below that figure. 

The warmest water is found in the Hed Sea where the surface 
temperature has been recorded as high as 90°. North of the 
equator the mean annual temperature is considerably above 80°, 
but south of it, to about the parallel of 25°, it varies from 80° 
to 70°. 

Chemical Composition, Salinity and Density of Sea Water. 

In this branch of inquiry great progress has been made, and 
sea water is now known to contain at least 32 elementary bodies. 
Its chief constituents are found to consist of the chlorides and 
sulphates of sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium. It also 
contains air and carbonic acid. 

The salinity and density of sea water have been investigated 
very thoroughly, particularly in the Atlantic. As the salinity 
of the sea water is an index of its density, changes in the former 
naturally affect the latter. The salinity has been found generally 
to decrease in the neighborhood of coasts, where rivers discharge 
their water into the sea, and it is a maximum in the trade zones, 
and a minimum in the equatorial rain belt. The salinity is 

148 National GeograjpTiic Magazine. 

affected by the degree of evaporation and by the frequency of 
rainfall, and is now recognized as an important factor in the bio- 
logic conditions of the sea. 

Of the three great oceans, the Atlantic, with a salinity of 3.69 
per cent., shows a slight preponderance over that of the Pacific 
and Indian Ocean, whose average salinity is 3.68 and 3.67, re- 

In the trade belts the great evaporation augments the salinity, 
and hence, also, the density, and in the polar zones the formation 
of ice brings about the same result, though in a lesser degree. In 
the equatorial calm region the frequent rainfall diminishes salin- 
ity and density through the dilution of the salt water. Density 
and salinity are thus in a certain degree subject to seasonal 

In the Atlantic the density increases in general from the higher 
latitudes towards the equator, but the maxima are separated by a 
zone of lesser density. The maximum in the North Atlantic 
ocean is found between the Azores, the Canaries and the Cape 
Verde Islands, and the minimum between the equator and 1 5" N. 

In the South Atlantic two maxima occur, one to the north of 
Trinidad, and the other near St. Helena and between that island 
and Ascension. 

Taking pure water at 4° C. for unity, the maximum density in 
the Atlantic is 1.0275 and in the Pacific, 1.0270. 

In the North Pacific the maximum density occurs between 30° 
and 31° N., and the minimum in about 7|° N., in the equatorial 
counter current, where it was found as low as 1.02485. 

In the South Pacific, which has a slightly greater density than 
the North Pacific, the maximum has been found in the vicinity 
of the Society Islands. 

The density of the waters of the Indian Ocean is not yet as 
well known as that of the Atlantic and Pacific, but the results 
ascertained indicate a lesser density in its northern part, with a 
maximum in the region between 20° and 36° S. and long. 60° to 
80° E. 

In the vicinity of Java and Sumatra, probably on account of 
the extreme humidity of the atmosphere and of frequent rainfall, 
the density has been found as low as 1.0250. 

In regard to the density of the water at various depths, it has 
been ascertained that as a general rule it decreases from the sur- 
face down to about 1,000 fathoms, after which it increases again 

Geography of the Sea. 149 

slowly to the bottom. In the equatorial calm regions, however, 
where the heavy rains dilute the surface water, the density de- 
creases from the surface down to between 50 and 100 fathoms, 
after which it follows the law found for other parts of the ocean. 
The bottom densities of the South Atlantic and Pacific have been 
found about alike, varying only from 1.02570 to 1.02590 ; those 
of the North Atlantic, however, show a greater value, varying 
from 1.02616 to 1.02632. 

Greatest Depths of the Oceans. 

Atlantic. — Rejecting some of the earliest soundings as un- 
trustworthy, the greatest known depth in the North Atlantic is 
to the north of the island of Puerto Rico, in about latitude 
19° 39' K, longitude 66° 26' W., found by the C. S. S. Blake, 
Lieut. Commander Brownson, U. S. isL^in 1882-83, 4,561 fath- 

The deepest known spot in the South Atlantic is 3,284 fathoms, 
in about latitude 19° 55' S., longitude 24° 50' W., sounded by the 
U. S. S, Essex, Commander Schley, in 1878. 

The general run of the soundings indicates that greater depres- 
sions exist nearer the western than in the eastern or middle part 
of the Atlantic, North and South. 

Pacific. — In the North Pacific the greatest depression has 
been found by the U. S. S. Tuscarora, Commander Geo. E. Bel- 
knap, TJ. S. N., in 1874, 4,655 fathoms, in latitude 44° 55' N., 
longitude 152° 26' E. The next deepest sounding in the North 
Pacific was located by the Challenger in 1875, 4,475 fathoms, 
in latitude 11° 24' N., longitude 143° 16' E. As in the Atlantic, 
the greater depths appear to exist in the western part and par- 
ticularly off the coasts of Japan, 

In the South Pacific the greatest depths were supposed, up to 
a recent period, to be in the eastern part. Within the last two 
years, however, the British surveying vessel Egeria has discovered 
greater depressions in the western part of the South Pacific, one 
spot sounding 4,430 fathoms in latitude 24" 37' S., longitude 175° 
08' W., and another, 12 miles farther south, 4,298 fathoms. 

Indian Ocean. — In this ocean the greatest depths appear to 
exist to the north and west of the Australian continent, where 
there are more than 3,000 fathoms in a number of widely sepa- 
rated spots, indicating a depressed area of considerable extent. 

In the most southerly part of the Indian Ocean, or rather in the 


National Geographic Magazine. 

Antarctic region, the Challenger obtained, in 1874, a maximum 
depth of 1,673 fathoms, in latitude 65° 42' S., longitude 79° 49' E. 

Arctic Ocean. — The greatest depth was sounded by the Sofia 
in 1868, 2,650 fathoms, in latitude 78° 05' K, longitude 2° 30' W. 

In the minor seas the maximum depths so far as ascertained 
are : 

Caribbean Sea 3,452 fms. 

Gulf of Mexico 2,119 

Mediterranean 2,170 

North Sea 375 

Baltic 178 

China Sea 3,100 

Coral Sea 3,650 

Sulu Sea 2,550 

Celebes Sea 2,600 

BandaSea 2,800 

January, 1889, 

south of Great Cayman. 
(Sigsbee Deep). 

Geography of the Air. 151 


By a. W. Gkeely. 

In presenting to the National Geographic Society a summary 
of geographic advance as regards the domain of the air, the Vice- 
president finds a task somewhat difficult. The traveler passes 
from the east to the west coast of Africa, and his very efforts 
to struggle across that great continent, impress in his memory 
an abiding picture of the physical features of the country over 
which he has passed, and of the distribution of plants and animal 
life. So, too, a vessel sails from one coast to another, cast- 
ing here and there a sounding lead, from which measurements it 
is possible to give quite a definite idea of the relief features of 
the bottom of the sea. 

Small as are the traces which serve to indicate the character of 
the sea bottom, yet they are infinitely greater than those which 
enable us to give a description of the air. Atmospheric disturb- 
ances are so vast, and their action is so rapid, that it requires the 
attentive care of thousands of observers before one can well hope 
to draw the roughest figure of a passing storm. To note 
changes in the force and direction of the wind, to note the 
depth of the rain, the increase and decrease of temperature 
and the varying changes of aqueous vapor, either in visible or 
invisible form, requires millions of careful, systematic observa- 
tions, and then when these are made, the task of collating, elabo- 
rating and discussing them seems almost too great for any man. 
Fortunately the value of meteorological work has impressed itself 
not only upon governments, which have assisted liberally by 
appropriations and organization, but yet more upon the isolated 
observer, thousands of whom over the face of the earth give of 
their time and labor, and add their mite to the wealth of universal 

In connection with all great physical questions, there is at 
times a tendency to application to special phases somewhat to 
the exclusion of others. While it can hardly be said that scien- 
tific and theoretical discussion of meteorology has been unduly 
neglected during the past year, yet it is evident that the great- 
est activity of meteorologists has been devoted to climatological 
investigation, and compilations of this character have been par- 

152 National Geographic Magazine. 

ticularly numerous during the past year — not in the United 
States and Europe alone, but throughout the whole world. 

The growing practical importance of meteorological researches 
has been lately evidenced perhaps in no more striking way than 
in the establishment in Brazil of a most extensive meteorological 
service, created by a decree of the Imperial government on April 
4, 1888. A central meteorological institute, under the Minister 
of Marine, is to be the centre for meteorological, magnetic and 
other physical researches, and observations are to be made at all 
marine and military establishments in the various provinces, on 
the upper Amazon, in Uruguay, and on all subsidized govern- 
ment steamers. This service should soon be fruitful in results, 
as the meteorology of the interior of Brazil is almost absolutely 

Another vast scheme has originated in Brazil in the Imperial 
Observatory of Rio Janeiro. Senor Cruls, its director, contem- 
plates a dictionary of the climatology of the earth, giving monthly 
means and extremes of pressure, temperature, rainfall, wind, etc. 
This scheme, of course, can be successful, only by international 
co-operation. The United States Signal Service has pledged its 
aid as regards this country. 

The former tendency among Russian meteorologists to devote 
their greatest energies to climatological compilations has gradu- 
ally given way to other practical work in connection with weather 
and storm predictions, as shown by the institution by the Rus- 
sian government of a system of storm-warnings for the benefit of 
vessels navigating the. Black Sea, 

Blanf ord has put forth an important papei% which partially elu- 
cidates the very intricate question of diurnal barometric changes, 
particularly bearing on the relation of the maximum pressure to 
critical conditions of temperature, cloudiness and rainfall. The 
question viewed in a negative light by Lament, as to whether the 
maximum barometric pressure could be attributed to the greatest 
rate of increase in the temperature of the air, due, it is supposed, 
to the reactionary effect of the heated and expanding air, has 
been re-examined by Blanford, whose conclusions are somewhat 
in favor of this theory. 

S. A. Hill has treated of the annual oscillation of pressure, so 
noticeable in India, and in so doing has investigated the changes 
of pressure for three levels, up to a height of 4500 meters. 
The reduction of monthly barometric means at high levels, hav- 

Geography of the Air. ^ 153 

ing regard to the vertical distribution of temperature, shows 
a double oscillation in the annual curve at the level of Leh, which 
becomes a single one at the height of 4500 meters, while this is 
substantially the reverse of the oscillation observed below. 

The subject is also treated in another way by Mr. Hill, through 
analysis of normal monthly means for all India, whereby he suc- 
ceeds in presenting a formula, the first periodic terms of which 
represent the two principal factors of the oscillation. 

Mr. Hill has also discussed elaborately the anomalies in the 
winds of northern India in their relation to the distribution of 
barometric pressure. The anomalies are: — (1) in the hot season 
the wind direction frequently shows no relation to the barometric 
gradient; (2) the winds over the plains show little or no relation 
to pressure gradients, but an obvious one to temperature, being 
greatest where the temperature is highest. 

It is pointed out as highly probable that the copious snowfalls 
of the late winter in the northwest Himalayas not only produce 
low temperatures on the Himalayan ranges, but subsequently 
cause dry northwesterly winds over northern and western India, 
and on this supposition, reliable forecasts of the character of the 
coming rainy monsoons have been made for a number of years. 
Convection currents between upper and lower air strata, it is sug- 
gested by Koppen, explain diurnal variations in wind velocity 
and direction. At low stations the maximum velocity occurs at 
the time of the highest temperature, while at high stations the 
reverse obtains. Hill has examined into an important point con- 
nected with this subject, that is, the great local differences in the 
vertical variation of temperature. Hill concludes by saying that 
high pressures at low levels are the result of low temperatures, 
and in connection with the fact that wind directions are largely 
influenced by the irregular distribution of pressure at high levels, 
it is more important to know the abnormal variations of pressure 
at the highest hill stations in India than those in the plains. 

Overbeck has lately published a paper on the apparent motions 
of the atmosphere, in which he clearly and admirably outlines the 
treatment of the dynamics of the air by his predecessors. He 
comments on the mode of treatment of Ferrel, as well as those of 
Guldberg and Mohn. Overbeck then sets forth his own method, 
and elaborately discusses the influence of the earth's rotation with 
reference to the resistances which oppose the motion of the at- 
mosphere. He touches on the effect produced by rapidly moving 

154 National Geographic Magazine. 

fluid entering fluid at rest, the development of discontinuous (so 
called by Helmholtz) currents, the tendency of parallel currents 
of unequal velocities towards similar velocities, the effect of fric- 
tion arising from contiguous currents of different velocities, upon 
the coefficient of friction, of the temperature distribution over 
the surface of the earth, etc. He derives three very simple ex- 
pressions for the motions of the air; the first giving the velocity 
in a vertical direction at any point, in terms of latitude, and a 
constant and factor depending on the distance of the point above 
the surface of the earth. The other expressions give the veloci- 
ties in a north or south direction, and in an east or west direction, 
also in terms of constants and latitude. The velocity when 
charted from Overbeck's equations indicate an ascending vertical 
current from the equator to 35° north, and thence a descending 
current to the pole. The meridional current at the equator and 
pole are zero, and have a maximum value at latitude 45°. 

Giro Ferari, from long and important investigations of thun- 
der-storms, shows that these phenomena invariably attend motion- 
less areas of low pressure, and believes the surest elements for 
predicting such storms will be found to be the peculiarities in 
distribution of temperature and absolute humidity. He observes 
that the storm front invariably tends to project itself into the re- 
gions where the humidity is greatest, and that hail accompanies 
rapidly moving storms of deep barometric depression. Ferari 
considers the chief causes of thunder storms to lie in the connec- 
tion of high temperature and high humidity. Grossman believes 
that ascending moist-laden currents are the cause of thunder 
storms, and hence they are most frequent when the temperature 
diminution with altitude is very great, so that the over-heating 
of the lower air strata in the warmest part of the day is the cause 
of the primary maximum of thunder-storm frequency. 

Abercromby and Hildebrandsson have renewed their recom- 
mendations for a re-classification of clouds in ten fundamental 
types, in which the first part of the compound name, such as 
cirro-stratus, cirro-cumulus, etc., is to be in a measure indicative 
of the height of a cloud. 

Hildebrandsson has charted the differences of monthly means 
of air pressure for January, 1S74 to 1884. In January, 1874, 
the values at nearly all the stations in the Northern Hemisphere, 
were plus, and those in the Southern, minus. It is to be hoped 
that such general discussions of this important meteorological 
element may be continued. 

Geography of the Air. 155 

General A. Von Tillo has determined, by means of the plani- 
meter^ the distribution of temperature and pressure from Teisse- 
renc de Bort's charts. The mean pressure over the Northern 
Hemisphere for January, he finds to be 29.99 inches (761.7 milli- 
meters), and the temperature 46°.9 (8.3 C.) ; in July, 29,806 
(758.5 mm.) and 12°.1 (22°.6 C). In Russia he finds an increase 
of one millimeter of pressure to correspond with a decrease of 
1°.6 C. in temperature. 

Doberck, after investigation of September typhoons at Hong 
Kong, attributes their appearance to the relatively low pressure 
then existing between Formosa and Lyon, 

The valuable and elaborate investigation of American Storms, 
by Professor Elias Loomis has been completed. Loomis has 
thoroughly discussed barometric maxima and minima areas as 
presented by the maps of the Signal Service, from which it 
appears that these areas are in general elliptical, with the longest 
axis nearly twice that of the shortest in the high areas, while the 
difference is less in low areas. He has also investigated the 
winds relative to baric gradients, thus affording valuable data for 
proving various meteorological theories. Loomis' researches re- 
garding the movement of maximum areas verify those which 
have been set forth from time to time in Signal Service publica- 
tions ; wherefrom it appears that high areas have a more south- 
erly movement than low areas. 

Van Bezold has put forth a memoir on thermodynamics, while 
Helmholtz, Oberbeck, and Diro-Kitso have contributed valuable 
memoirs on motions caused by gravitation and the varying den- 
sity of the air. These furnish meteorologists with important re- 
sults as to the laws of fluid or gaseous motions. It is gratifying 
to Americans to note that the valuable results obtained, by 
Ferrel in his many memoirs are confirmed by these later investi- 

Undoubtedly the most important meteorological event within 
the past year was the discontinuance, on January 1, 1888, of 
the system of International Simultaneous Meteorological re- 
ports inaugurated in accordance with the agreement of the con- 
ference at Vienna in September, 1873. As the charts of storm 
tracks, based on these observations, have been published by the 
United States Signal Service one year behind the date of the 
observations, the completion of this work in printed form for the 
general public should occur about December 31, 1888. 

156 National Geographic Magazine. 

A few remarks in connection with this unparalleled set of 
observations may not be out of place. The congress which agreed 
upon this work, met in accordance with invitations issued by the 
Austrian Government in September, 1873. The co-operation de- 
cided upon at this congress took practical shape January 1, 18*74, 
at which date one daily simultaneous report was commenced from 
the Russian and Turkish Empires, the British Islands, and the 
United States : the energetic co-operation of these nations being 
assured through Professor H. Wild for Russia ; Professor A. 
Coumbary for Turkey ; Mr. Robert H. Scott for Great Britain ; 
and Bvt. Brig. General A. J. Meyer, for the United States. Con- 
current action followed shortly after on the part of Austria, 
through Professor Carl Jelinek ; Belgium through Professor E. 
Quetelet ; Denmark through Capt. Hoffmeyer ; France through 
Monsieurs U. J. Leverrier, Marie Davy, and St. Claire Deville ; 
Algiers by General Farre ; Italy by Professor Giovanni Cantoni ; 
the Netherlands by Professor Buys Ballot ; Norway by Professor 
H. Mohn ; Spain by Professor A. Aquilar ; Portugal by Professor 
F. de Silveira ; Switzerland by Professor E. Plantamour ; and the 
dominion of Canada by Professor G. T. Kingston. Within a year 
the average number of daily simultaneous observations made out- 
side the limits of the United States increased to 214. Later, the 
co-operation of the Governments of India, Mexico, Australia, 
Japan, Brazil, Cape Colony, Germany, and Greece, was obtained, 
and also of many private observatories at widely separated points 
throughout the Northern Hemisphere. 

In the sixteen years during which simultaneous meteorological 
observations were continued, reports were received from nearly 
fifteen hundred different stations, about one-half being from land 
stations, and the others from vessels of the navies and the mer- 
chant marine of the various countries. 

The total number of storm centers, counting one for each 6-de- 
gree square over which the centre has been traced from the In- 
ternational Simultaneous observations of 1878 to 1887, inclusive, 
aggregates over forty-two thousand, an annual average of over 
four thousand two hundred. Less than ^-^ of 1 per cent, 
of these storms occurred south of the parallel of 10°, and 
only ^ of 1 per cent, south of the parallel of 15°. In marked 
contradistinction to this freedom of the equatorial regions from 
storms, there is to be noted the excessive prevalence of these 
phenomena between the parallels of 40° and 60°, north ; in which 

Geography of the Air. 157 

regions substantially two-thirds of the storms of the Northern 
Hemisphere occurred ; while between the parallels of 45° and 55°, 
north, 36 per cent, of the entire disturbances ai*e recorded. The 
most remarkable belt of storm frequency on the Northern Hemi- 
sphere is that extending from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence west- 
ward to the extreme end of Lake Superior, as nearly 8 per cent, 
of all the storms of the Northern Hemisphere passed over this 
limited region ; the maximum frequency (1.2 per centum) oc- 
cui-ring over the 6-degree square northeastward of Lake Huron. 

As regards longitudinal distribution, an unusually large pro- 
portion of storms prevailed between the 50th meridian and 105th 
meridian, west ; 37 per cent, or one-third of all the storms of 
the Northern Hemisj)here occurring within this region. A 
second belt of comparative storm frequency obtains from the 
meridian of Greenwich eastward to the 30th meridian ; over 
which region 15 per cent, of the entire number of storms occurred. 

Only four hundred, or less than 9 per cent, of the entire 
number of storms, entered the American continent from the Pacific 
ocean, while about thirteen hundred storms, excluding the West 
India hurricanes, passed eastward off of the American continent. 
Over nine hundred storms entered Europe from the Atlantic 
ocean, of which probably four hundred and fifty, or ten per 
cent, of the whole number recorded, were developed over the 
Atlantic ocean. Probably not thirty storms, or less than three per 
cent, of those which entered Europe from the Atlantic, crossed 
over the continents of Europe and Asia to the Pacific ocean. 
Fully two-thirds of the storms which enter Europe from the 
Atlantic are dissipated as active stoi'm-centres before they reach 
the Asiatic frontier. 

The tendency of great bodies of water, when surrounded wholly 
or largely by land, to generate storms or facilitate their develop- 
ment, is evident from the unusual prevalence of storms over the 
great lakes, the St. Lawrence bay and the Gulf of Mexico in 
North America ; over the North and Baltic seas. Bay of Biscay 
and the Mediterranean in Europe ; the Bay of Bengal, and over 
the China and Okhotsk seas. 

Undoubtedly a considerable proportion of these storms are drawn 
towards these regions owing to the effect of evaporation upon the 
humidity and temperature of the superincumbent atmosphere, so 
that a very considerable proportion of the storms credited to these 
squares have not originated therein, but have been drawn up from 

158 National Geographic Magazine. 

neighboring quarters. This tendency is marked in North Amer- 
ica, as storms pass over the lake region and St. Lawrence 
valley, whether they' have originated in the Gulf of Mexico, along 
the central slope of the Rocky mountains in the United States, or 
further north in the Saskatchewan country. In like manner 
storms pass southeastward to the Mediterranean from the Bay of 
Biscay, and northeastward from the Atlantic ocean to the same 
sea, and then later show a very marked tendency to pass over the 
Black and Caspian seas. 

This tendency of storms originating in diverse sections to 
move toward the lake regions in the United States, is very 
evident from the normal storm-track charts for April, May, June, 
August, November and December. 

The opinion that gales rarely, if ever, occur upon the equator is 
confirmed by these storm-tracks. The most southern storm in 
the North Pacific ocean, developed in July, 1880, between the 
Island of Borneo and Mindanao, an excellent account of which 
is given by P^re Mark Dechevrens, S. J., in the Bulletin 
Mensuelle of Zi-Ka-Wei Observatory. The most southern storm 
over the North Atlantic ocean, in November, 1878, was remarka- 
ble for its origin, duration, length of its path, and its enormous 
destruction of life and property. It was central on the 1st, as 
a violent tropical hurricane near Trinidad, the barometer being 
29.05, the lowest ever recorded there, and, from its intensity 
and velocity, it is more than probable that it originated consid- 
erably to the eastward, and possibly somewhat to the southward 
of that island. The storm was described in the U. S. Monthly 
Weather Review for September, 1878. 

The writer looks with considerable interest to the results 
which may follow from a discussion of the annual fluctuation of 
the atmospheric pressure as shown by the mean monthly pressures 
deduced from the ten years' International observations. As far as 
these means have been examined they show that the periodicity 
of atmospheric pressure is largely in accord with the results set 
forth in 1885 in The Report of the Lady Franklin Bay 
Expedition. The conviction expressed in that year is still ad- 
hered to — that, at no distant day, the general laws of atmos- 
pheric changes will be formulated, and that later, from abnormal 
barometric departures in remote regions may be predicted the 
general character of seasons in countries favorably located. 

The success of long-time predictions of this class for India, has 
been set forth in a previous part of this report. It is believed 

Geography of the Air. 159 

that a further discussion of meteorological phenomena on a broad 
basis, by means of International Weather Charts, both in daily 
and monthly form, must eventually result in important and fun- 
damental discoveries. It is gratifying to American pride to 
know that in this international task of outlining the geogi'aphy 
of the air, the United States has liberally provided the labor and 
means for presenting these ten years' meteorological data in such 
tabular and geographical forms as to render them available for 
study by all. 

Acknowledgment is due to Professor Thomas Russell, for val- 
uable translations, especially from the German ; which transla- 
tions have been of material value in preparing this report. 

December, 1888. 

160 National Geographic Magazine. 


C. Haet Merriam. 

During the year now drawing to a close not a single work 
which I conceive to fall legitimately within the scope of the de- 
partment of Geography of Life has appeared in any part of the 
world, so far as I am aware. It being manifestly impossible, 
then, to comply with the requirement of the By-law calling for a 
summary of the work of the year, I may be pardoned for digress- 
ing sufficiently to speak of what seems to be thQ function of this 
Society in its relations to biology. 

The term ' Geography of Life^ applied without limitation or 
qualification to one of the five departments of the Society is not 
only comprehensive, but is susceptible of different if not diverse 
interpretations. Indeed, without great violence it might be con- 
strued to comprehend nearly the whole domain of systematic bot- 
any, zoology, and anthropology. As a matter of fact, I believe 
it was intended to include everything relating directly to the dis- 
tribution of life on the earth. Thus it would naturally embrace 
all sources of information which assign localities to species. 
Local lists and faunal publications of every kind would fall under 
this head, and also the narratives of travelers who mention the 
animals and plants encountered in their journeys. In the single 
branch of ornithology, about fifty per cent, of the current litera- 
ture would have to be included. The most obvious objection to 
this comprehensiveness of scope is the circumstance that a mere 
bibliographic record of titles alone would fill a journal the size of 
the National Geographic Magazine. 

Hence it may not be amiss to attempt a preliminary reconnois- 
sance, with a view to what my friend Mr. Marcus Baker has recently 
defined as " a Survey of Class II, for Jurisdictional purposes." 
Let us seek therefore to run a boundary line about the territory 
we may fairly claim without trenching on the possessions of others. 

Before doing this it becomes necessary to bear in mind certain 
facts and laws without a knowledge of which it is impossible to 
think intelligently on the subject. It is a matter of common ob- 
servation that different groups of animals and plants inhabit dif- 
ferent regions, even in the same latitude ; that some forms are 
almost world wide in distribution ; that others are restricted to 

Geography of Life. 161 

very limited areas; that the ranges of very dissimilar species are 
often geographically coincident; and that, as a rule, animals in- 
habiting contiguous areas are more neai-ly related than those in- 
habiting remote areas. The recognition of these facts early led 
to the attempt to divide the surface of the earth, according to its 
animal life, into ' f aunal ' districts. By the term fauna is meant 
the sum of the animal life of a region. 

A comparatively meagre supply of information is sufficient to in- 
dicate the principal faunal subdivisions of a country, but for 
mapping the exact boundaries of such ai'eas a vastly greater 
and more precise fund of knowledge is necessary. The way in 
which such maps are prepared is by collecting all available 
authentic records of localities where the particular species has been 
found. This is done by compiling published records, by examin- 
ing labels of specimens in various museums and private collec- 
tions, and by work in the field. The data thus brought together 
are arranged on cards under authors and regions, and are tabula- 
ted under species. The localities are then indicated by colored 
spots on an outline map,. the space surrounded by the spots being 
washed in with a paler tint of the same color. A separate map 
is devoted to each species. 

Faunal maps are made by combining a large number of species 
maps. In making such combinations it is found, as a rule, that 
a considerable percentage of the species maps fall into certain 
well defined categories whose color patches are essentially coin- 
cident. The composite resulting from the coordination of these 
maps may be held to represent the natural faunal areas of a 
country. Several such areas may be characterized by the com- 
mon possession of species not found elsewhere, and may be com- 
bined to constitute a faunal province; several provinces, a region; 
and several r.egions a realm or primary zoo-geographical division 
of the earth's surface. 

Having ascertained the actual extent and limitations of the 
natural faunal districts, it remains to correlate the facts of distri- 
bution with the facts of physiography. 

My own convictions are that the work of this Society in Geo- 
graphic Distribution should be restricted to the generalization of 
results: that we should deal with philosophic deduction rather 
than with detailed observations and the tedious steps and labori- 
ous methods by which they are made available. Our aim should 
be to correlate the distribution of animals and plants with the 

162 National Geographic Magazine. 

physiographic conditions which govern this distribution, and to 
formulate the laws which are operative in bringing about the re- 
sults we see. In other words, we are to study cause and effect 
in the relations of physiography to biology. 

The kind of works meriting discussion in the annual report of 
the Vice-president of this section are such philosophic treatises 
as those of Humboldt, Dana, Agassiz, DeCandolle, Engler, Dar- 
win, Huxley, Pelzeln, Sclater, Wallace, Baird, Verrill, Allen, Cope, 
and Gill. As it is seldom that more than one or two such works 
appear in any single year, there is likely to be ample opportunity 
for profitable discussion. 

January, 1889. 


The Treasuree, in account with the National Geographic Society. 

Dec. 27. To cash received from life members $100 00 

" for annual dues year 1888 1025 00 

$1125 00 


Apr. 16. By Cash— M. F.Peake& Co. (20 chairs) $ 60 00 

' ' Paid Columbian University, rent 

of hall .._ 20 00 

Oct. 31. " Paid Tuttle, Morehouse & Tay- 

lor, for printing and binding 

vol. I of Magazine $ 190 56 

" Norris Peters, for lithographing 

storm plates for Magazine 58 00 

" Sundry expenses of Magazine.. 6 35 254 91 

Dec. 27. " Paid Cosmos Club, rent of hall. 18 00 

" " for miscellaneous expenses: 

" " Printing. 74 50 

" " Stationery 28 35 

" " " Postage 29 15 

" " Sundries. 13 39 145 39 

Balance on hand (Bank of Bell & Co.) 626 70 

$1125 00 

C. J. BELL, 


December 28, 1888. 
To the National Geographic Society : 

The undersigned, having been appointed an Auditing Committee to 
examine the accounts of the Treasurer for 1888, have the honor to 
make the following report : 

We have compared the receipts with the oflScial list of members and 
find complete agreement. We have compared the disbursements with 
the vouchers for the same and find them to have been duly authorized 
and correctly recorded. We have examined the bank account and 
compared the checks accompanying the same. We have compared the 
balance in the hands of the Treasurer as shown by the ledger ($626.70) 
with the balance as shown by the bank book ($644.70) and found them 
consistent, the difference being explained by the fact that a check for 
$18 drawn in favor of the Secretary of the Cosmos Club has not yet 
been presented for payment. We find the condition of the accounts 
entirely satisfactory. 

Very respectfully, 



The first step toward the organization of the National Geo- 
graphic Society was the circulation of the following invitation, 
on Jan. 10, 1888. 

"Dear Sir: You are invited to be present at a meeting to be 
held in the Assembly hall of the Cosmos Club, Friday evening, 
January 13, at 8 o'clock, for the purpose of considering the ad- 
visability of organizing a society for the increase and diffusion of 
geographical knowledge. 

Very respectfully yours, 
Gardiner G. Hubbard, Henry Mitchell, 
A. W. Greely, Henry Gannett, 

J. R. Bartlett, a, H. Thompson, 

and others." 

In response to this invitation 33 gentlemen met at the appointed 
place and time. The meeting was called to order by Prof. A. 
H. Thompson, who stated its objects and nominated Capt. C. E. 
Dutton as chairman. The formation of a geographic society was 
discussed by Messrs. Hubbard, Bartlett, Thompson, Mitchell, 
Kennan, Gannett, Merriam and Gore. 

The following resolution, introduced by Prof. Thompson, was 

Resolved, 1. As the sense of this meeting that it is both advisable 
and practicable to organize at the present time a geographic society in 

2. That this society should be organized on as broad and liberal a 
basis in regard to qualifications for membership as is consistent with 
its own well being and the dignity of the science it represents. 

3. That a committee of nine be appointed by the chairman to prepare 
a draft of a constitution and plan of organization, to be presented at an 
adjourned meeting to be held in this hall on Friday evening, January 
20, 1888." 

A committee was appointed by the chair, consisting of Messrs. 
Hubbard, Greely, Bartlett, Mitchell, Kennan, Thompson, Gore, 
Tittman and Merriam for formulating a plan of organization. 

' Annual Report of the Secretaries. 165 

A subsequent meeting was held on January 20, at which it 
was decided to incorporate the society, and the same committee 
was continued to carry out that purpose. On January 27 the so- 
ciety was incorporated, the following gentlemen signing the cer- 
tificate of incorporation: 

Gardiner Gr. Hubbard, J. W. Powell, 

C E. DuTTOif, Henry Gannett, 

O, H. TiTTMAN, A. H. Thompson, 

J. Howard Gore, A. W. Greelt, 

C. Hart Merriam, Henry Mitchell, 

J. R. Bartlett, George Kennan, 

Rogers Birnie, Jr., Marcus Baker, 
Gilbert Thompson, 

and upon the same day the first meeting of the society was held 
in the Assembly hall of the Cosmos club, when it was organized 
by the election of the following list of ofiicers and the adoption 
of the by-laws: 


Gardiner G. Hubbard; 

Herbert G. Ogden, A. W. Greely, 
J. R. Bartlett, C. Hart Merriam, 

A. H. Thompson; 

Charles J, Bell; 

Recording Secretary, 
Henry Gannett; 

Corresponding Secretary, 
George Kennan; 

Cleveland Abbe, W. D. Johnson, 

Marcus Baker, Henry Mitchell, 

Rogers Birnie, Jr., W. B. Powell, 
G. Brown Goodb, James C. Welling. 

The number of members who joined the society at its organiza- 
tion was 165. Since that date 45 have been elected to member- 

166 National QeogrojphiG Magazine. 

The society has lost one member by death during the year, Mr. 
James Stevenson. 

The present number of members is 209. 

The society has held 14 meetings, 3 3 of which have been 
devoted to the presentation of papers. It has published the first 
number of a magazine, copies of which have been distributed 
to the members of the society, to others interested in geography 
and to the geographic societies throughout the world for purposes 
of exchange. 

The society has also undertaken the preparation of a Physical 
Atlas of the United States, upon which some progress has been 

Very respectfully submitted, 

Henky Gannett, 
George Kennan, 

Washington, D. C, December 38, 1888. 



This is to Certify that we whose names are hereunto subscribed, 
citizens of the United States, and a majority of whom are citi- 
zens of the District of Columbia, have associated ourselves to- 
gether pursuant to the provisions of the Revised Statutes of the 
United States relating to the District of Columbia, and of an act 
of Congress entitled : " An Act to amend the Revised Statutes 
of' the United States relating to the District of Columbia and for 
other purposes," approved April 23, 1884, as a Society and body 
corporate, to be known by the corporate name of the National 
Geographic Society, and to continue for the term of one hundred 

The particular objects and business of this Society are: to in- 
crease and diffuse geographic knowledge; to publish the transac- 
tions of the Society; to publish a periodical magazine, and other 
works relating to the science of geography; to dispose of such pub- 
lications by sale or otherwise and to acquire a library, under the 
restrictions and regulations to be established in its By-Laws. 

The affairs, funds and property of the corporation shall be in 
the general charge of Managers, whose number for the first year 
shall be seventeen, consisting of a President, five Vice-Presidents, 
a Recording Secretary, a Corresponding Secretary, a Treasurer 
and eight other members, styled Managers, all of whom shall be 
chosen by ballot at the annual meeting. The duties of these 
officers and of other officers and standing committees, and their 
terms and the manner of their election or appointment shall be 
provided for in the By-Laws. 

Gardiner G. Hubbard, J. W. Powell, 
C. E. DuTTON, Henry Gannett, 

O. H. Tittman, a. H. Thompson, 

J. Howard Gore, A. W. GbiEELY, 

C. Hart Merriam, Heistrt Mitchell, 

J. R. Bartlett, . George Keenan, 

Rogers Bienie, Jr., Marcus Baker, 

Gilbert Thompson. 


















The name of this Society is the " National Geographic Society." 


The object of this Society is the increase and diffusion of geographic 



The members of this Society shall be persons who are interested in 
geographic science. There may be three classes of members, active, 
corresponding and honorary. 

Active members only shall be members of the corporation, shall be 
entitled to vote and may hold office. 

Persons residing at a distance from the District of Columbia may be- 
come corresponding members of the Society. They may attend its 
meetings, take part in its proceedings and contribute to its publications. 

Persons who have attained eminence by the promotion of geographic 
science may become honorary members. 

Corresponding members may be transferred to active membership, 
and, conversely, active members may be transferred to corresponding 
membership by the Board of Managers. 

The election of members shall be entrusted to the Board of Mana- 
gers. Nominations for membership shall be signed by three active 
members of the Society ; shall state the qualifications of the candidate ; 
and shall be presented to the Recording Secretary. No nomination shall 
receive action by the Board of Managers until it has been before it at 
least two weeks, and no candidate shall be elected unless he receive at 
least nine affirmative votes. 



The Officers of the Society shall be a President, five Vice-Presidents, 
a Treasurer, a Recording Secretary and a Corresponding Secretary. 

The above mentioned officers, together with eight other members of 
the Society, known as Managers, shall constitute a Board of Managers. 
Officers and Managers shall be elected annually, by ballot, a majority 

170 National Geographic Magazine. 

of the votes cast being necessary to an election ; they shall hold office 
until their successors are elected ; and shall have power to fill vacancies 
occurring during the year. 

The President, or, in his absence, one of the Vice-Presidents, shall 
preside at the meetings of the Society and of the Board of Managers ; 
he shall, together with the Recording Secretary, sign all written con- 
tracts and obligations of the Society, and attest its corporate seal ; he 
shall deliver an annual address to the Society. 

Each Vice-President shall represent in the Society and in the Board 
of Managers, a department of geographic science, as follows : 

Geography of the Land, 
Geography of the Sea, 
Geography of the Air, 
Geography of Life, 
Geographic Art. 

The Vice-Presidents shall foster their respective departments within 
the Society ; they shall present annually to the Society summaries of 
the work done throughout the world in their several departments. 

They shall be elected to their respective departments by the Society. 

The Vice-Presidents, together with the two Secretaries, shall consti- 
tute a committee of the Board of Managers on Communications and 

The Treasurer shall have charge of the funds of the Society, shall 
collect the dues, and shall disburse under the direction of the Board of 
Managers ; he shall make an annual report ; and his accounts shall be 
audited annually by a committee of the Society and at such other 
times as the Board of Managers may direct. 

The Secretaries shall record the proceedings of the Society and of the 
Board of Managers ; shall conduct the correspondence of the Society ; 
and shall make an annual report. 

The Board of Managers shall transact all the business of the Society, 
except such as may be presented at the annual meeting. It shall formu- 
late rules for the conduct of its business. Nine members of the Board 
of Managers shall constitute a quorum. 



The annual dues of active members shall be five dollars, payable dur- 
ing the month of January, or. in the case of new members, within 
thirty days after election. 

The dues of members elected in November and December shall be 
credited to the succeeding year. 

Annual dues may be commuted and life membership acquired by the 
payment of fifty dollars. 

No member in arrears shall vote at the annual meeting, and the 
names of members two years in arrears shall be dropped from the roll 
of membership. 

By-Laws. 171 



Regular meetings of the Society shall be held on alternate Fridays, 
from November until May, and excepting the annual meeting, they 
shall be devoted to communications. The Board of Managers shall, 
however, have povs^er to postpone or omit meetings, when deemed 
desirable. Special meetings may be called by the President. 

The annual meeting for the election of ofl&cers shall be the last regu- 
lar meeting in December. 

The meeting preceding the annual meeting shall be devoted to the 
President's annual address. 

The reports of the retiring Vice-Presidents shall be presented in 

A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of twenty-five 
active members. 



These by-laws may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the members 
present at a regular meeting, provided that notice of the proposed 
amendment has been given in writing at a regular meeting at least f ou r 
"weeks previously. 


a., original members. 
I., life members. 
* Deceased. 

In cases where no city is given in the address, Washington, D. C, is to be under- 

Abbe, Prof. Clevelai^d, a. I., 

Army Signal Office. 2017 I Street. 
Abeet, S. T. (Sylvanus Thayer), ' 

810 Nineteenth Street. 
Aheen, Jeeemiah, 

Geological Survey. 804 10th Street. 
Allen, De, J. A. (Josepli Asaph), 

American Museum Natural History, New York. 
Aplin, S. a., Je. (Stephen Arnold), 

Geological Survey. 1513 R. Street. 
Aeeick, Cliffoed, a., 

Geological Survey. 1131 Fourteenth Street. 

Pa. Geol. Survey, Hamilton Bldg. , Pittsburg, Pa. 
Atkinson, Miss E. S. (Emma Seccombe), a., 

Washington Normal School. 918 Massachusetts Avenue. 
Atkinson, "W. R. (William Russum), «., 

Geological Survey. 2900 Q Street. 
Atees, Miss S. C. (Susan Caroline), a., 

Pension Office. 502 A Street SE. 
Bakee, Peof. Feank, a., 

Light House Board. 1315 Corcoran Street. 
Bakee, Maecus, a., 

Geological Survey. 1125 Seventeenth Street. 
Baldwin, H. L. (Harry Lewis), a., 

Geological Survey. 125 Sixth Street NE. 
Baenaed, E, C. (Edward Chester), a., 

Geological Survey. 1715 G Street. 
Baetlb, R. F. (Rudolph Francis), 

947 Virginia Avenue SW. 
Bartlett, Comde. J. R. (John Russell), U. S.. N., a., 

Providence, R. I. 
Bassett, C. C. (Charles Chester), a., 

Geological Survey. 929 New York Avenue. 

Memhers of the Society, 173 

Bell, A. Graham (Alexander Graham), a., 

1336 Nineteenth Street. 

Bell, Chas. J. (Charles James), a.^ 

1437 Pennsylvania Avenue. 1328 Nineteenth Street. 

BiEN, Julius, a., 

139 Duane Street, New York, N. Y. 

BiEN, Morris, a., 

Geological Survey. Takoma Park, D. C. 

BiRNiE, Capt. Rogers, Jr., U. S. A., «., 

Ordnance Office. 1341 New Hampshire Avenue. 

Blair, H. B. (Herbert Buxton), a., 

Geological Survey. 1831 F Street. 

Blodgett, James H. (James Harvey), «., 

Geological Survey. 1237 Massachusetts Avenue. 

BoDFisH, S. H. (Sumner Homer), a., 

Geological Survey. 58 B Street NE. 

Boutelle, Capt. C. O. (Charles Otis), a., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 

Braid, Andrew, a., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 807 E. Cap. Street. 

Brent, L. D. (Lawrence Decatur), 

Geological Survey. 1384 Q Street. 

Brewer, H. G. (Harrison Gaston), a., 

Hydrographic Office. Meridian Avenue, Mt. Pleasant. 

Brewster, William, 

Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Brown, Miss E. Y. (Elizabeth Virginia), 

1312 S Street. 

Burton, Prof. A. E. (Alfred Edner), a., 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Mass. 

Carpenter, Z. T. (Zachary Taylor), a., 

1003 F. street. 1009 Thirteenth Street. 

Chapman, R. H, (Robert Hollister), «., 

Geological Survey. 1307 L Street. 

Chatard, Dr. Thos. M. (Thomas Marean), a., 

Geological Survey. 516 Park Avenue, Baltimore, Md. 

Christie, Peter H. (Peter Harrison), 

Geological Survey. 

Clark, A. Howard (Alonzo Howard), 

National Museum. 1527 S Street. 

Clark, E. B. (Elias Buckner), «., 

Geological Survey. Laurel, Md. 

CoLviN, Verplanck, a., 

Albany, New York. 

Court, E. E. (Emil Edward), 

Hydrographic Office. 431 Q Street. 

Cummin, R. D. (Robert Dodge), a., 

Geological Survey. 1710 I Street. 

174 National Geograjphic Magazine. 

Curtis, W. E. (William Ellery), «., 

513 Fourteenth Street. 1434 Q Street. 
Dall, Mrs. Caroline H. (Caroline Healey), a., 

1603 O Street. 
Dakwin, Chas. C. (Charles Carlyle), «., 

Geological Survey. 1907 Harewood Avenue, Le Droit Park. 
Davidson, Prof. George, a., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. San Francisco, Cal. 
Davis, A. P. (Arthur Powell), «., 

Geological Survey. 814 M Street. 
Davis, Mrs. A. P. (Elizabeth Brown Davis), 

314 M Street. 
Davis, Prof. Wm. M. (William Morris), 

308 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 
Day, Dr. David T. (David Talbot), 

Geological Survey. 621 Thirteenth Street, 
Dennis, W. H. (William Hooper), a.^ 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 12 Iowa Circle. 
DiLLER, J. S. (Joseph Silas), «., 

Geological Survey. 1804 Sixteenth Street. 
Douglas, E. M. (Edward Morehouse), «., 

Geological Survey. Takoma Park, D. C. 
Dow, John M., 

Pacific Mail S. S. Co., Panama. 
Duke, Basil, 

Geological Survey. 457 C Street. 
DuNNiNGTON, A. F. (Abner F.), a.. 

Geological Survey. 504 A Street SE. 
DuRAND, John, 

16 Rue Littre, Paris. 
DuTTON, A. H. (Arthur Henry), a., 

Hydrographic Office. 1305 H Street. 
DuTTON, Capt. C. E. (Clarence Edward), U. S. A., a.. 

Geological Survey. 2024 R Street. 
Dyer, Lieut. G. L. (George Leland), U. S. N., 

Hydrographic Office. 1415 Twentieth Street. 
*Dyer, G. W. (George Washington), a., 

100"3 F Street. 1325 Vermont Avenue. 
Edson, J. R. (Joseph Romanzo), a., 

1003 F Street. 1335 Corcoran Street. 
Elliott, Lieut, W. P. (William Power), XJ, S, JST., «., 

Navy Department. 1801 Q Street. 
Fairfield, G. A. (George Albert), a.^ 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 1418 Fifteenth Street. 
Fairfield, Walter B. (Walter Brown), a., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 
Fernow, B. E. (Bernhard Eduard), a,. 

Department of Agriculture. 1704 Nineteenth Street. 

Members of the Society. 1T5 

FiNLEY, Lieut. J. P. (John Park), U. S. A., a., 

Army Signal Office. 1003 Twenty-fourth Street. 

FiscHEK, E. G. (Ernst George), a., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 436 New York Avenue. 

Fitch, C. H. (Charles Hall), a., 

Geological Survey. 3025 N Street. 

Fletcher, L. C. (Louis Cass), a., 

Geological Survey. 1831 F Street. 

Fletcher, Dr. Robert, a., 

Army Medical Musuem. The Portland. 

Ford, W. C. (Worthington Channcey), «., 

State Department. 1725 H Street. 

Gage, N. P. (Nathaniel P., a., 

Seaton School. 

Gannett, Henry, a., 

Geological Survey. 1881 Harewood Avenue, Le Droit Park. 

Gannett, S. S. (Samuel Stinson), a., 

Geological Survey. 401 Spruce Street, Le Droit Park. 

Gilbert, G. K. (Grove Karl), «., 

Geological Survey. 1424 Corcoran Street. 

GiLMAN, Pres. D. C. (Daniel Coit), a., 

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. 

Goode, G. Brown (George Brown), «., 

National Museum. Lanier Heights. 

GooDE, R. U. (Richard Urquhart), a., 

Geological Survey. 1600 Sixteenth Street. 


Coast and Geodetic Survey. 7 Dupont Circle. 

Gordon, R. O. (Rhome O.), a.. 

Geological Survey. St. Asaph Junction, Va. 

Granger, F. D. (Frank DeWolf ), 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 

Greely, Gen. A. W. (Adolphus Washington), U. S. A., a., 

Army Signal Office. 1914 G Street. 

Griswold, W. T. (William Tudor), a., 

Geological Survey. 1715 G Street. 

Gulliver, F. P. (Frederic Putnam), 

Geological Survey. 811 Ninth Street. 

Hackett, Merrill, a., 

Geological Survey. 490 Maine Avenue. 

Harrison, D. C. (Dabney Carr), «., 

Geological Survey. 

Hasbrouck, E. M. (Edwin Marble), 

Geological Survey. 1625 Fourteenth Street. 

Haskell, E. E. (Eugene Elwin), «., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 1418 Fifteenth Street. 

Hayden, Lieut. E. E. (Edward Everett), U. S. N., a., 

Hydrographic Office. 1802 Sixteenth Street. 

176 National Geographic Magazine. 

Heaton, a. G., (Augustus George), 

1618 Seventeenth Street. 
Henby, a. J. (Alfred Judson), «., 

Army Signal Office. 1404 S Street. 
Henshaw, H. "W. (Henry Wetlierbee), «., 

Bureau of Ethnology. 13 Iowa Circle. 
Hekele, Gustav, «., 

Hydrographic Office. 646 C Street NE. 
Heeeon, W. H. (William Harrison), «., 

Geological Survey. 1008 H Street. 
Hill, Geo. A. (George Andrews), «., 

Army Signal Office. 2148 Pennsylvania Avenue. 
Hill, Peof. E. T. (Kobert Thomas), 

Austin, Texas. 
HiNMAN, Russell, 

Cincinnati, O. In care Van Antwerp, Bragg & Co. 
HoDGKiNS, Peof. H. L. (Howard Lincoln), «., 

Columbian University. 1531 Ninth Street. 
Hopkins, C. L. (Charles Linsley), 

Department of Agriculture. 1443 Chapin Street. 
HoENADAY, W. T. (William Temple), «., 

National Museum. 405 Spruce Street, Le Droit Park. 
Howell, E. E. (Edwin Eugene), «., 

48 Oxford Street, Rochester, N. Y. 
HowEu^, D. J. (David Janney), a., 

939 F Street. Alexandria, Va. 
Hubbard, Gaedinee G. (Gardiner Greene), «., 

* 1328 Connecticut Avenue. 
Iaedella, C. T. (Charles Thaddeus), a., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 1536 I Street. 
Jennings, J. H. (James Henry), (^., 

Geological Survey. 822 H Street NE. 

Johnson, A. B. (Arnold Purges), «., 

Treasury Department. 501 Maple Avenue, Le Droit Park. 

Johnson, J. P., 

Howard University. 
Johnson, S. P. (Stuart Phelps), 

501 Maple Avenue, Le Droit Park. 

Johnson, W. D. (Willard Drake), «., 

Geological Survey. 501 Maple Avenue, Le Droit Park. 

Kael, Anton, «., 

Geological Survey. 1210 B Street SW. 
Kauffmann, S. H. (Samuel Hay), a., 

1000 M Street. 
Kenaston, Peof. C. A. (Carlos Albert), a.^ 

Howard University. 
Kennan, Geoege, «., 

1318 Massachusetts Avenue. 

Members of the Society. Ill 

Kennedy, George G., I., 

Roxbury, Mass. 

Kerb, M. B. (Mark Brickell), a., 

Geological Survey. 

Kimball, E. F. (Edward Fenno), 

411 Maple Avenue, Le Droit Park. 

Kimball, S. I. (Snmner Increase), a., 

411 Maple Avenue, Le Droit Park. 

King, F. H., 

University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. 

King, Prof. Harry, a., 

Geological Survey. 1319 Q Street. 

King, William B., 

1328 Twelfth Street. 

King, Mrs. W. B., 

1328 Twelfth Street. 

Knight, F, J. (Frederick Jay), «., 

Geological Survey. 744 Eighth Street. 

Knowlton, F. H. (Frank Hall), a., 

National Museum. 

Koch, Peter, a., 

Bozeman, Mont. 

Lackland, "W. E. (William Eason), «., 

Geological Survey. 1305 Corcoran Street. 

Leach, Boynton, 

Hydrographic Office. 2028 P Street. 

Lerch, R. L. (Robert Lee), a., 

Hydrographic Office. 809 Twenty-first Street. 


Coast and Geodetic Survey. 19 Fourth Street SE. 


Coast and Geodetic Survey. 452 K Street. 

LoNGSTREBT, R. L. (Robert Lee), a., 

Geological Survey. 1536 I Street. 

LovELL, W. H. (William Henry), 

Geological Survey. 2410 Fourteenth Street. 

McGee, W J, «., 

Geological Survey. 1620 P Street. 

McGiLL, Miss Mary C, 

336 C street. 

McKee, R. H. (Redick Henry), a., 

Geological Survey. 1753 Rhode Island Avenue. 

McKiNNEY, R. C. (Robert Christian), a., 

Geological Survey. 1120 Thirteenth Street. 

Maher, J. A. (James Arran), «., 

Johnson City, Tenn. 

Manning, Yan H., Jr. (Van Hartrog), 

Geological Survey, Branchville, Md. 

178 National Geographic Magazine. 

Makindin, H. L. (Henry Louis), 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 1316 Rhode Island Avenue, 

Maesh, Ens. C. C. (diaries Carleton), U. S. I^., a.^ 

Naval Observatory. 926 Twenty-third Street. 

Matthews, De. Washington, TJ. S. A., a.. 

Army Medical Museum. 1262 New Hampshire Avenue. 

Melville, Geo. W. (George White), a.. 

Engineer in Chief, U. S. N. Navy Department. 1705 H Street. 

Menocal, Civ. Eng. A. G. (Aniceto Garcia), U. S. N., a., 

Navy Department. 2012 Hillyer Place. 

Meeeiam, De. C. Haet (Clinton Hart), «., 

Department of Agriculture. 1919 Sixteenth Street. 

Mindeleef, Cosmos, 

Bureau of Ethnology. 1408 Eleventh Street. 

Mindeleef, Yictoe, 

Bureau of Ethnology. 2504 Fourteenth Street. 

Mitchell, Peof. Henet, a.^ 

18 Hawthorne Street, Roxbury, Mass. 

MosMAN, A. T. (Alonzo Tyler), «., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 


Geological Survey. 1412 Fifteenth Street. 

MuELiN, A. E. (Arlington Elliott), 

Geological Survey. 1550 Third Street. 

Myees, Mes. Ida. G. (Idalia Gilbert), 

1008 I Street. 

Nattee, E. W. F. (Ernst Wilhelm Franz), 

Geological Survey. 474 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

N'ell, Louis, «^., 

Geological Survey. 1118 Virginia Avenue SW. 

JSTlLES, W. H., 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Mass. 

Noedhoff, Chaeles, a.. 

1731 K Street. 

Ogden, H. G. (Herbert Gouvernenr), «., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 1324 Nineteenth Street. 

Paesons, F. H. (Francis Henry), «., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 210 First Street SE. 

Patton, Pees. W. W. (William Weston), «., 

Howard University. 425 College Street. 

Peale, De. a. C. (Albert Charles), «., 

Geological Survey. 1446 Stoughton Street. 

Peekins, E. T., Jr. (Edmnnd Taylor), «., 

Geological Survey. 1831 F Street. 

Peneose, K. a. F,, 

Austin, Texas. 

Petees, Lieut. G. H. (George Henry), IT. S. IST., a.. 

Navy Department. 

Memhers of the Society. 179 

Petees, W. J. (William Jolin), «., 

Geological Survey. 18H1 F Street. 
Pierce, Josiah-, Jr., 

Geological Survey. 1829 G Street. 
Powell, Major J. W. (John Wesley), «., 

Geological Survey. 910 M Street. 
Powell, Prof. Wm. B. (William Bramwell), a., 

Franklin School Building. 1739 Twelfth Street. 

Prentiss, Dr. D. W. (Daniel Webster), «., 

1101 Fourteenth Street. 
Renshawe, Jno. H. (John Henry), a., 

Geological Survey. 1131 I Street. 
PiCKSECKER, Eugene, a., 

Seattle, Washington Territory. 
Riley, Dr. C Y. (Charles Valentine), a.. 

Department of Agriculture. 1700 Tliirteenth Street. 
RiTTER, II. P. (Homer Peter), «., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 1125 Seventeenth Street. 
Roberts, A. C. (Arthur Carr), a., 

Hydrographic Office. 
Russell, I. C. (Israel Cook), a., 

Geological Survey. 1754 Corcoran Street. 
Sargent, Prof. C. S. (Charles Spragne), «., 

Brookline, Massachusetts. 
Schley, Com. W. S. (Winfield Scott), IT. S. N., «., 

Navy Department, 825 Vermont Avenue. 
ScuDDER, Sam. H. (Samuel Hubbard), a., 

Cambridge, Massachusetts. 
Shaler, Prof. JS". S. (Nathaniel Southgate), a., 

Cambridge, Massachusetts. 
SiEBERT, J. S. (John Selmar), 

Hydrographic Office. 330 Spruce Street, Le Droit Park. 
Smith, Edwin, a., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 3034 Hillyer Place. 
Smith, Middleton, a., 

Army Signal Office. 1616 Nineteenth Street. 
Sommer, E. J. (Ernest Julius), a., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 330 A Street SE. 
Stein, Robert, 

Geological Survey. 
Stejneger, Leonhard, «., 

National Museum. 
Stockton, Lt. Comdr, C. H. (Charles Hubert), U. S. N., a., 

Navy Department. 1828 I Street. 
Sutton, Frank, 

Geological Survey. 938 K Street. 
Thomas, Miss Mary von E. (Maiy von Erden), a., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 329 New Jersey Avenue SE, 

180 National Geographic Magazine. 

Thompson, Prof. A. H. (Almon Harris), a., 

Geological Survey. 
Thompson, Gilbert, a., 

Geological Survey. 1448 Q Street. 

Thompson, Laurence, «., 

Box 380, Seattle, Washington Territory. 

Thompson, Lieut. R. E. (Richard Edward), IT. S. A., a.. 

War Department. 3011 N Street. 

TiTTMANN, O. H. (Otto Hilgard), «., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 1019 Twentieth Street. 

TowsoN, R. M. (Richard Mathew), «., 

Geological Survey. 824 Thirteenth Street. 

Trenholm, Hon. Wm, L. (William Lee), a., 

American Surety Company, 160 Broadway, N. Y. 

Tweedy, Frank, a., 

Geological Survey. 

Urquhart, Chas. F. (Charles Fox), a., 

Geological Survey. 1600 Sixteenth, Street. 

Vasey, Dr. George, «., 

Department of Agriculture. 3012 Fourteenth Street. 

ViNAL, W. I, (Washington Irving), a., 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 153 D Street SE. 

Von Haake, Adolph, 

Post Office Department. 1215 L Street. 

Walcott, C. D. (Charles Doolittle), a.. 

Geological Survey. 418 Maple Avenue, Le Droit Park. 

Wallace, LI. S. (Hamilton Stone), «., 

Geological Survey. 2118 G Street. 

Ward, Lester F. (Lester Frank), a., 

Geological Survey. 1464 Rhode Island Avenue. 

Weed, Walter H. (Walter Harvey), (X., 

Geological Survey. 825 Vermont Avenue. 

Weir, J. B. (John Bradford), a., 

1603 L Street. 

Welling, Dr. J. C. (James Clarke), a., 

1303 Connecticut Avenue. 

White, Dr. C. A. (Charles Abiathar), a., 

Geological Survey. 312 Maple Avenue, Le Droit Park. 

White, Dr. C. H. (Charles Hemy), U. S. N., a., 

Navy Department. 

Whiting, Henry L. (Henry Laurens), 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. West Tisbury, Mass. 

Wilder, Gen. J. T. (John Thomas), a. /., 

Johnson City, Tenn. 

Wilder, Miss Mary, 

Johnson City, Tenn. 

Willis, Bailey, a., 

Geological Survey. 1513 R Street. 

Memhers of the Society. 181 

Willis, Mrs. Bailey (Altona H. Grinnell), 

1512 R Street. 

Wilson, A. E. (Adolplius Irwin), 

Geological Survey. 931 G Street. 

Wilson, H. M. (Herbert Michael), «., 

Geological Survey. Cosmos Club. 

Wilson, Thomas, 

National Museum. 1318 Connecticut Avenue. 

Winston, Isaac, 

Coast and Geodetic Survey. 1325 Corcoran Street. 

Woodward, R. S. (Robert Simpson), a., 

Geological Survey. 1804 Columbia Road. 

Yarrow, Dr. H. C. (Harry Crecy), U. S. A., a., 

Army Medical Museum. 814 Seventeenth Street. 

Yeates, Chas. M. (Cbarles Marion), a.. 

Geological Survey. 1304 R Street. 

Vol. I. 

No. 3. 






Price 50 cents. 


Tlie Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania : William Morris Davis . 183 
(Illustrated by one map and twenty -five cuts.) 

Topographic Models : Cosmos Mindeleff 254 

(Illustrated by two plates.) 

National Geographic Society — Abstract of Minutes . . . 269 

International Literary Contest to be held at Madrid, Spain . 273 

July, 1889. 




Vol. I. 1889. No. 3. 


By William Moeris Davis. 

' ' In Faltensystemen von sehr hohem Alter wurde die urspriingliche 
Anordnung der Langenthaler durch das Ueberhandnehmen der trans - 
versalen Erosionsfurchen oft ganz und gar verwischt." 

LOWL. Petermann's Mittheilungen, xxviii, 1882, 411. 


Part first. Introductory. 

1. Plan of work here proposed. 

2. General description of the topography of Pennsylvania. 

3. The drainage of Pennsylvania. 

4. Previous studies of Appalachian drainage. 

Part second. Outline of the geological history of the region. 

5. Conditions of formation. 

6. Foi'nier extension of strata to the southeast. 

7. Cambro-Silurian and Permian deformations. 

8. Perm Triassic denudation. 

9. Newark deposition. 

10. Jurassic tilting. 

11. Jura-Cretaceous denudation. 

12. Tertiary elevation and denudation. 

13. Later changes of level. 

14. Illustrations of Pennsylvanian topography. 

* The substance of this essay was presented to the Society in a lecture 
on February 8th, 1889, but since then it has been much expanded. 

VOL. I. 15 

184 National Geographic Magazine. 

Part third. General conception of the history o^ a river. 

15. The complete cycle of river life : youth, adolescence, 

maturity and old age. 

16. Mutual adjustment of river courses. 

17. Terminology of rivers changed by adjustment. 

18. Examples of adjustments. 

19. Revival of rivers by elevation and drowning by depression. 

20. Opportunity for new adjustments with revival. 

21. Antecedent and superimposed rivers. 

22. Simple, compound, composite and complex rivers. 

Part fourth. The development of the rivers of Pennsylvania. 

23. Means of distinguishing between antecedent and adjusted 

consequent rivers, 

24. Postulates of the argument, 

25. Constructional Permian topography and consequent drain- 


26. The Jura mountains homologous with the Permian Alle- 


27. Development and adjustment of the Permian drainage, 

28. Lateral water-gaps near the apex of synclinal ridges. 

29. Departure of the Juniata from the Juniata-Catawissa 


30. Avoidance of the Broad Top basin by the Juniata head- 


31. Reversal of larger rivers to southeast courses. 

32. Capture of the Anthracite headwaters by the growing 


33. Present outward drainage of the Anthracite basins. 

34. Homologies of the Susquehanna and Juniata. 

35. Superimposition of the Susquehanna on two synclinal 


36. Evidence of superimposition in the Susquehanna tributaries. 

37. Events of the Tertiary cycle. , 

38. Tertiary adjustment of the Juniata on the Medina anti- 


39. Migration of the Atlantic-Ohio divide, 

40. Other examples of adjustments. 

41. Events of the Quaternary cycle. 

42. Doubtful cases. 

43. Complicated history of our actual rivers. 

44. Provisional conclusions. 

Part first. Introductory. 

1. Plan of work here proposed. — l^o one now regards a river 
and its valley as ready-made features of the earth's surface. All 
are convinced that rivers have come to be what they are by slow 
processes of natural development, in which every peculiarity of 
river-course and valley-form has its appropriate cause. Being 

The Rivers mid Vcdleys of PeQinsylvania. 185 

fully persuaded of the gradual and systematic evolution of topo- 
graphic forms, it is now desired, in studying the rivers and 
valleys of Pennsylvania, to seek the causes of the location of the 
streams in their present courses ; to go back if possible to the 
early date when central Pennsylvania was first raised above the 
sea and trace the development of the several river systems then 
implanted upon it from their ancient beginning to the present 

The existing topography and drainage system of the State will 
first be briefly described. We must next inquire into the geo- 
logical structure of the region, follow at least in a general way 
the deformations and changes of attitude and altitude that it has 
suffered, and consider the amount of denudation that has been 
accomplished on its sui'f ace. We must at the same time bear in 
mind the natural history of rivers, their morphology and devel- 
opment ; we must recognize the varying activities of a river in 
its youth and old age, the adjustments of its adolescence and 
maturity, and the revival of its decrepit powers when the land 
that it drains is elevated and it enters a new cycle of life. 
Finally we shall attempt to follow out the development of the 
I'ivers of Pennsylvania by applying the general principles of 
river history to the special case of Pennsylvania structure. 

2. General description of the topography of Pennsylvania. — 
The strongly marked topographic districts of Pennsylvania can 
hardly be better described than by quoting the account given 
over a century ago by Lewis Evans, of Philadelphia, in his 
" Analysis of a map of the middle British colonies in America " 
(1755), which is as valuable from its appreciative perception as it 
is interesting from its early date. The following paragraphs are 
selected from his early pages : 

" The land south westward of Hudson's River is more regularly 
divided and into a greater number of stages than the other. 
The first object worthy of regard in this part is a rief or vein of 
rocks of the talky or isinglassy kind, some two or three or half a 
dozen miles broad ; rising generally some small matter higher 
than the adjoining land ; and extending from New York city 
southwesterly by the lower falls of Delaware, Schuylkill, Susque- 
hanna, Gun-Powder, Patapsco, Potomack, Rapahannock, James 
river and Ronoak. This was the antient maritime boundary of 
America and forms a very regular curve. The land between this 

rief and the sea and from the Navesink hills southwest 

may be denominated the Lower Plains, and consists of soil washt 
down from above and sand accumulated from the ocean. Where 

186 National Geographic Magazine. 

these plains are not penetrated by rivers, they are a white sea- 
sand, about twenty feet deep and perfectly barren, as no mixture 
of soil helps to enrich them. But the borders of the rivers, 
which descend from the uplands, are rendered fertile by the soil 
washt down with the floods and mixt with the sands gathered 
from the sea. The substratum of sea-mud, shells and other 
foreign subjects is a perfect confirmation of this supposition. 
And hence it is that for 40 or 50 miles inland and all the way 
from the Navesinks to Cape Florida, all is a perfect bari'en where 
the wash from the uplands has not enriched the borders of the 
rivers ; or some ponds and defiles have not furnished proper 
support for the growth of white cedars 

" From this rief of rocks, over which all the rivers fall, to that 
chain of broken hills, called the South mountain, there is the 
distance of 50, 60 or '70 miles of very uneven ground, rising 
sensibly as you advance further inland, and may be denominated 
the Upland. This consists of veins of different kinds of soil and 
substrata some scores of miles in length ; and in some places 
overlaid with little ridges and chains of hills. The declivity of 
the whole gives great rapidity to the streams ; and our violent 
gusts of rain have washt it all into gullies, and carried down the 
soil to enricli the borders of the rivers in the Lower Plains. 
These inequalities render half the country not easily capable of 
culture, and impoverishes it, where torn up by the plow, by daily 
washing away the richer mould that covers the surface. 

" The South mountain is not in ridges like the Endless moun- 
tains, but in small, broken, steep, stoney hills ; nor does it run 
with so much regularity. In some places it gradually degenerates 
to nothing, not to appear again for some miles, and in others it 
spreads several miles in breadth. Between South mountain and 
,the hither chain of the Endless mountains (often for distinction 
called the North mountain, and in some places the Kittatinni and 
Pequelin), there is a valley of pretty even good land, some 8, 10 
or 20 miles wide, and is the most considerable quantity of 
valuable land that the English are possest of ; and runs through 
New Jersey, Pensilvania, Mariland and Virginia. It has yet 
obtained no general name, but may properly enough be called 
Piemont, from its situation. Besides conveniences always attend- 
ing good land, this valley is everywhere enriched with Limestone. 

" The Endless mountains, so called from a translation of the 
Indian name bearing that signification, come next in order. 
They are not confusedly scattered and in lofty peaks overtopping 
one another, but stretch in long uniform ridges scarce half a mile 
perpendicular in any place above the intermediate vallies. Their 
name is expressive of their extent, though no doubt not in a 

literal sense The mountains are almost all so many 

ridges with even tops and nearly of a height. To look from 
these hills into the lower lands is but, as it were, into an ocean of 
woods, swelled and deprest here and there by little inequalities, 
not to be distinguished one part from another any more than the 

The Rivers and Yalleys of Pennsylvania. 187 

waves of the real ocean. The uniformity of these mountains, 
though debarring us of an advantage in this respect, makes some 
amends in another. They are very regular in their courses, and 
confine the creeks and rivers that run between ; and if we know 
where the gaps are that let through these streams, we are not at 

a loss to lay down their most considerable inflections 

" To the northwestward of the Endless mountains is a country 
of vast extent, and in a manner as high as the mountains them- 
selves. To look at the abrupt termination of it, near the sea 
level, as is the case on the west side of Hudson's river below 
Albany, it looks as a vast high mountain ; for the Kaats Kills, 
though of more lofty stature than any other mountains in these 
parts of America, are but the continuation of the Plains on the 
top, and the cliffs of them in the front they present towards 
Kinderhook. These Upper Plains are of extraordinary rich level 
land, and extend from the Mohocks river through the country of 
the Confederates.* Their termination northward is at a little 
distance from Lake Ontario ; but what it is westward is not 
known, for those most extensive plains of Ohio are part of them." 

These several districts recognized by Evans may be summar- 
ized as the coastal plain, of nearly horizontal Cretaceous and 
later beds, just entering the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania ; 
the marginal upland of contorted schists of disputed age ; the 
South Mountain belt of ancient and much disturbed crystalline 
rocks, commonly called Archean ; a space between these two 
traversed by the sandstone lowland of the Newark formation ;f 
the great Appalachian valley of crowded Cambrian limestones 
and slates ; the i-egion of the even-crested, linear Paleozoic 
ridges, bounded by Kittatinny or Blue mountain on the south- 
east and by Alleghany mountain on the northwest, this being the 
area with which we are here most concerned ; and finally the 
Alleghany plateau, consisting of nearly horizontal Devonian and 
Carboniferous beds and embracing all the western part of the 
state. The whole region presents the most emphatic expression 
not only of its structure but also of the more recent cycles of 
development through which it has passed. Fig. 1 represents the 
stronger ridges and larger streams of the greater part of the cen- 
tral district : it is reproduced from the expressive Topographic 
Map of Pennsylvania (1871) by Lesley. The Susquehanna flows 
down the middle, receiving the West Branch from Lock Haven 

* Eeferring to the league of Indian tribes, so-called. 

t Russell lias lately recommended the revival of this term, proposed 
many years ago by Redfield, as a non-committal name for the "New 
red sandstones " of our Atlantic slope, commonly called Triassic. 

The Rivers and Valleys of PennsyVoania. 189 

and Williamsport, the East Branch from Wilkes-Barre in the 
Wyoming basin, and the Juniata from the Broad Top region, 
south of Huntingdon. The Anthracite basins lie on the right, 
enclosed by zigzag ridges of Pocono and Pottsville sandstone ■; 
the Plateau, trenched by the West Branch of the Susquehanna is 
in the northwest. Medina sandstone forms most of the central 

3. The drainage of Pennsylvania. — The greater part of the 
Alleghany plateau is drained westward into the Ohio, and with 
this we shall have little to do. The remainder of the plateau 
drainage reaches the Atlantic by two rivers, the Delaware and 
the Susquehanna, of which the latter is the more special object 
of our study. The North and West Branches of the Susque- 
hanna rise in the plateau, which they traverse in deep valleys ; 
thence they enter the district of the central ranges, where they 
unite and flow in broad lowlands among the even-crested ridges. 
The Juniata brings the drainage of the Broad Top region to the 
main stream just before their confluent current cuts across the 
marginal Blue Mountain. The rock-rimmed basins of the anthra- 
cite region are drained by small branches of the Susquehanna 
northward and westward, and by the Schuylkill and Lehigh to 
the south and east. The Delaware, which traverses the plateau 
between the Anthracite region and the Catskill Mountain front, 
together with the Lehigh, the Schuylkill, the little Swatara and 
the Susquehanna, cut the Blue Mountain by fine water-gaps, and 
cross the great limestone valley. . The Lehigh then turns east- 
ward and joins the Delaware, and the Swatara turns westward to 
the Susquehanna ; but the Delaware, Schuylkill and Susquehanna 
all continue across South Mountain and the Newark belt, and 
into the low plateau of schists beyond. The Schuylkill unites 
with the Delaware near Philadelphia, just below the inner margin 
of the coastal plain ; the Delaware and the Susquehanna con- 
tinue in their deflected estuaries to the sea. All of these rivers 
and many of their side streams are at present sunk in small 
valleys of moderate depth and width, below the general surface 
of the lowlands, and are more or less complicated with terrace 

4. Previous studies of Appalachian drainage. — There have 
been no special studies of the history of the rivers of Pennsyl- 
vania in the light of what is now known of river development. 
A few recent essays of rather general character as far as our 
rivers are concerned, may be mentioned. 

190 National Geographic Magazine. 

Peschel examined our rivers chiefly by means of general maps 
with little regard to the structure and complicated history of the 
region. He concluded that the several transverse rivers which 
break through the mountains, namely, the Delaware, Susquehanna 
and Potomac, are guided by fractures, anteiior to the origin of 
the rivers.* There does not seem to be suflicient evidence to 
support this obsolescent view, for most of the water-gaps are 
located independently of fractures ; nor can Peschel's method of 
river study be trusted as leading to safe conclusions, 

Tietze regards our transverse valleys as antecedent ;f but this 
was made only as a general suggestion, for his examination of 
the structure and development of the region is too brief to estab- 
lish this and exclude other views, f 

Lowl questions the conclusion reached by Tietze and ascribes 
the transverse gaps to the backward or headwater erosion of ex- 
ternal streams, a process which he has done much to bring into 
its present important position, and which for him replaces the 
persistence of antecedent streams of other authors.^ 

A brief article§ that I wrote in comment on Lowl's first essay 
several years ago now seems to me insufiicient in its method. It 
exaggerated the importance of antecedent streams ; it took no 
sufficient account of the several cycles of erosion through which 
the region has certainly passed ; and it neglected due considera- 
tion of the readjustment of initial immature stream courses dur- 
ing more advanced river-life. Since then, a few words in Lowl's 
essay have come to have more and more significance to me ; he 
says that in mountain systems of very great age, the original 
arrangement of the longitudinal valleys often becomes entirely 
confused by means of their conquest by transverse erosion gaps. 
This suggestion has been so profitable to me that I have placed 
the original sentence at the beginning of this paper. Its thesis 
is the essential element of my present study. 

Phillipson refers to the above-mentioned authors and gives a 
brief account of the arrangement of drainage areas within our 
Appalachians, but briefly dismisses the subject. | His essay con- 
tains a serviceable bibliography. 

If these several earlier essays have not reached any precise 

*Physische Erdkunde, 1880, ii, 442. 

f Jahrbuch Geol. Eeichsanstalt, xxviii, 1878, 600. 

iPet. Mitth., 1882, 405 ; Ueber Thalbildung, Prag, 1884. 

§ Origin of Cross-valleys. Science, i, 1883, 325. 

II Studien tiber Wasserscheiden. Leipsig, 1886, 149. 

The Rivers and Yalleys of P ennsyVoania. 191 

conclusion, it may perhaps be because the details of the geologi- 
cal structure and development of Pennsylvania have not been 
sufficiently examined. Indeed, unless the reader has already be- 
come familiar with the geological maps and reports of the Penn- 
sylvania surveys and is somewhat acquainted with its geography, 
I shall hardly hope to make my case clear to him. The volumes 
that should be most carefully studied are, first, the always inspir- 
ing classic, "Coal and its Topography" (1856), by Lesley, in 
which the immediate relation of our topography to the under- 
lying structure is so finely described ; the Geological Map of 
Pennsylvania (1856), the result of the labors of the first survey 
of the state ; and the Geological Atlas of Counties, Volume X of 
the second survey (1885). Besides these, the ponderous volumes 
of the final report of the first survey and numerous rejDorts on 
separate counties by the second survey should be examined, as 
they contain many accounts of the topography although saying 
very little about its development. If, in addition to all this, the 
reader has seen the central district of the state and marvelled at 
its even-crested, straight and zigzag ridges, and walked through 
its narrow water-gaps into the enclosed coves that they drain, he 
may then still better follow the considerations here presented. 

Part Second. Outline of the geological history of the region. 
5. Cofiditlons of formation. — The region in which the Susque- 
hanna and the neighboring rivers are now located is built in chief 
part of marine sediments derived in paleozoic time from a lai'ge 
land area to the southeast, whose northwest coast-line probably 
crossed Pennsylvania somewhere in the southeastern part of the 
state ; doubtless varying its position, however, by many miles 
as the sea advanced and receded in accordance with the changes 
in the relative altitudes of the land and water surfaces, such as 
have been discussed by Newberry and Claypole. The sediments 
thus accumulated are of enormous thickness, measuring twenty 
or thirty thousand feet from their crystalline foundation to the 
uppermost layer now remaining. The whole mass is essentially 
conformable in the central part of the state. Some of the forma- 
tions are resistent, and these have determined the position of our 
ridges ; others are weaker and are chosen as the sites of valleys 
and lowlands. The first are "the Oneida and Medina sandstones, 
which will be here generally referred to under the latter name 
alone, the Pocono sandstone and the Pottsville conglomerate ; to 
these may be added the fundamental crystalline mass on which 

192 National GeograpJiia Magazine. 

the whole series of bedded formations was deposited, and the 
basal sandstone that is generally associated with it. Wherever 
we now see these harder rocks, they rise above the surrounding 
lowland surface. On the other hand, the weaker beds are the 
Cambrian limestones (Trenton) and slates (Hudson River), all 
the Silurian except the Medina above named, the whole of the 
Devonian — in which however there are two hard beds of subordi- 
nate value, the Oriskany sandstone and a Chemung sandstone and 
conglomerate, that form low and broken ridges over the softer 
ground on either side of them — and the Carboniferous (Mauch 
Chunk) red shales and some of the weaker sandstones (Coal 

6. Former extension of strata to the southeast. — We are not 
much concerned with the conditions under which this great series 
of beds was formed ; but, as will appear later, it is important for 
us to recognize that the present southeastern margin of the beds 
is not by any means their original margin in that direction. It 
is probable that the whole mass of deposits, with greater or less 
variations of thickness, extended at least twenty miles southeast 
of Blue Mountain, and that many of the beds extended much 
farther. The reason for this conclusion is a simple one. The 
several resistant beds above-mentioned consist of quartz sand 
and pebbles that cannot be derived from the underlying beds of 
limestones and shales ; their only known source lay in the crys- 
talline rocks of the paleozoic land to the southeast. South Moun- 
tain may possibly have made part of this paleozoic land ; but it 
seems more probable that it was land only during the earlier 
Archean age, and that it was submerged and buried in Cambrian 
time and not again brought to the light of day until it had been 
crushed into many local anticlines* whose crests were uncovered 
by Permian and later erosion. The occurrence of Cambrian 
limestone on either side of South Mountain, taken with its com- 
pound anticlinal structure, makes it likely that Medina time found 
this crystalline area entirely covered by the Cambrian beds ; 
Medina sands must therefore have come from farther still to the 
southeast. A similar argument applies to the source of the 
Pocono and Pottsville beds. The measure of twenty miles as the 
former southeastern extension of the paleozoic formations there- 
fore seems to be a moderate one for the average of the whole 
series ; perhaps forty would be nearer the truth. 

* Lesley, as below. 

The Rivers and Yalleys of Pennsylvania. 193 

7. Camhro- Silurian and Permian def ordinations. — This great 
series of once horizontal beds is now wonderfully distorted ; but 
the distortions follow a general rule of trending northeast and 
southwest, and of diminishing in intensity from southeast to 
northwest. In the Hudson Valley, it is well known that a con- 
siderable disturbance occurred between Cambrian and Silurian 
time, for there the Medina lies unconformably on the Hudson 
River shales. It seems likely, for reasons that will be briefly 
given later on, that the same disturbance extended into Pennsyl- 
vania and farther southwest, but that it affected only the south- 
eastern corner of the State ; and that the unconformities in 
e"vidence of it, which are preserved in the Hudson Valley, are 
here lost by subsequent erosion. Waste of the ancient land and 
its Cambro-Silurian annex still continued and furnished vast beds 
of sandstone and sandy shales to the remaining marine area, 
until at last the subsiding Paleozoic basin was filled up and the 
coal marshes extended broadly across it. At this time we may 
picture the drainage of the southeastern land area wandering 
rather slowly across the great Carboniferous plains to the still 
submerged basin far to the west ; a condition of things that is 
not imperfectly represented, although in a somewhat more 
advanced stage, by the existing drainage of the mountains of the 
Carolinas across the more modern coastal plain to the Atlantic. 

This condition ^as interrupted by the great Permian deforma- 
tion that gave rise to the main ranges of the Appalachians in 
Pennsylvania, Virginia and Tennessee. The Permian name seems 
appropriate here, for while the deformation may have begun at 
an earlier date, and may have continued into Triassic time, its 
culmination seems to have been within Permian limits. It was 
characterized by a resistless force of compression, exerted in a 
southeast-northwest line, in obedience to which the whole series 
of Paleozoic beds, even twenty or more thousand feet in thickness, 
was crowded gradually into great and small folds, trending north- 
east and southwest. The subjacent Archean terrane doubtless 
shared more or less in the disturbance : for example. South 
Mountain is desci'ibed by Lesley as "not one mountain, but a 
system of mountains separated by valleys. It is, geologically 

considered, a system of anticlinals with troughs between 

It appears that the South' Mountain range ends eastward [in 
Cumberland and York Counties] in a hand with five [anticlinal] 

* Proc. Amer. Phil. See, xiii, 1873, 6. 

194 National Geographic Magazine. 

It may be concluded with fair probability that the folds began 
to rise in the southeast, where they are crowded closest together, 
some of them having begun here while coal marshes were still 
forming farther west ; and that the last folds to be begun were 
the fainter ones on the plateau, now seen in Negro mountain and 
Chestnut and Laurel ridges. In consequence of the inequalities 
in the force of compression or in the resistance of the yielding 
mass, the folds do not continue indefinitely with horizontal axes, 
but vary in height, rising or falling away in great variety. 
Several adjacent folds often follow some general control in this 
respect, their axes rising and falling together. It is to an unequal 
yielding of this kind that we owe the location of the Anthracite 
synclinal basins in eastern Pennsylvania, the Coal Measures being 
now worn away from the prolongation of the synclines, which 
rise in either direction. 

8. Perm-Triassic denudation. — During and for a long time 
after this period of mountain growth, the destructive processes 
of erosion wasted the land and lowered its surface. An enormous 
amount of material was thus swept away and laid down in some 
unknown ocean bed. We shall speak of this as the Perm-Triassic 
period of erosion. A measure of its vast accomplishment is seen 
when we find that the Newark formation, which is generally cor- 
related with Triassic or Jurassic time, lies unconformably on the 
eroded surface of Cambrian and Archean rocks in the southeastern 
part of the State, where we have concluded that the Paleozoic 
series once existed ; where the strata must have risen in a great 
mountain mass as a result of the Appalachian deformations ; and 
whence they must therefore have been denuded before the depo- 
sition of the Newark beds. Not only so ; the moderate sinuosity 
of the southeastern or under boundaiy of the Newark formation 
indicates clearly enough that the surface on which that portion 
of the formation lies is one of no great relief or ineqxiality ; and 
'such a surface can be carved out of an elevated land only after 
long continued denudation, by which topographic development 
is carried beyond the time of its greatest strength or maturity 
into the fainter expression of old age. This is a matter of some 
importance in our study of the development of the rivers of 
Pennsylvania ; and it also constitutes a good part of the evidence 
already referi*ed to as indicating that there must have been some 
earlier deformations of importance in the southeastern part of 
the State ; for it is hardly conceivable that the great Paleozoic 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 195 

mass could have been so deeply worn off of the Newark belt 
between the making of the last of the coal beds and the first of 
the Newark. It seems more in accordance with the facts here 
recounted and with the teachings of geological history in general 
to suppose, as we have here, that something of the present 
deformation of the ancient rocks underlying the Newark beds 
was given at an early date, such as that of the Green Mountain 
growth ; and that a certain amount of the erosion of the folded 
beds was thus made possible in middle Paleozoic time ; then 
again at some later date, as Permian, a second period of mountain 
growth arrived, and further folding was effected, and after this 
came deeper erosion ; thus dividing the destructive work that 
was done into several parts, instead of crowding it all into the 
post-Carboniferous time ordinarily assigned to it. It is indeed 
not impossible that an important share of what we have called 
the Permian deformation was, as above suggested, accomplished 
in the southeastern part of the State while the coal beds were yet 
forming in the west ; many grains of sand in the sandstones of 
the Coal Measures may have had several temporary halts in other 
sandstone beds between the time of their first erosion from the 
Archean rocks and the much later time when they found the 
resting place that they now occupy.* 

9. Neioarh deposition. — After the great Paleozoic and Perm- 
Triassic erosions thus indicated, when the southeastern area of 
ancient mountains had been well worn down and the Permian 
folds of the central district had acquired a well developed 
drainage, there appeared an opportunity for local deposition in 
the slow depression of a northeast-southwest belt of the deeply 
wasted land, across the southeastern part of the State ; and into 
this trough-like depression, the waste from the adjacent areas on 
either side was carried, building the Newark formation. This 
may be referred to as the Newark or Trias-Jurassic period of 
deposition. The volume of this formation is unknown, as its 
thickness and original area are still undetermined ; but it is 
pretty surely of many thousand feet in vertical measure, and its 
original area may have been easily a fifth or a quarter in excess 
of its present area, if not larger yet. So great a local accumula- 
tion seems to indicate that while the belt of deposition was 

* These considerations may have value in showing that the time in 
which the lateral crushing of the Appalachians was accomplished was 
not so brief as is stated by Reade in a recent article in the American 
Geologist, iii, 1889, 106. 


National Geographic Magazine. 

sinking, the adjacent areas were rising, in order to furnish a con- 
tinual supply of material ; the occurrence of heavy conglomerates 
along the mai'gins of the Newark formation confirms this suppo- 
sition, and the heavy breccias near Reading indicate the occur- 
rence of a strong topography and a strong transporting agent to 
the northwest of this part of the Newark belt. It will be neces- 
sary, when the development of the ancestors of our present rivers 
is taken up, to consider the effects of the depression that 
determined the locus of Newark deposition and of the adjacent 
elevation that maintained a supply of material. 

10. Jurassic tilting. — Newark deposition was stopped by a 
gradual reversal of the conditions that introduced it. The 
depression of the Newark belt was after a time reversed into 
elevation, accompanied by a peculiar tilting, and again the waste 
of the region was carried away to some unknown resting place. 
This disturbance, which may be regarded as a revival of the 
Permian activity, culminated in Jurassic, or at least in post- 
Newark time, and resulted in the production of the singular 
monoclinal attitude of the formation ; and as far as I can cor- 
relate it with the accompanying change in the underlying struc- 
tures, it involved there an over-pushing of the closed folds of the 
Archean and Paleozoic rocks. This is illustrated in figs. 2 and 3, 

Fia. 2. 

Fig. 3. 

in which the original and disturbed attitudes of the Newark and 
the undei-lying formations are roughly shown, the over-pushing 
of the fundamental folds causing the monoclinal and probably 
faulted structure in the overlying beds.* If this be true, we 
might suspect that the unsymmetrical attitude of the Appalachian 
folds, noted by Rogers as a characteristic of the range, is a 
feature that was intensified if not originated in Jurassic and not 
in Permian time. 

* Amer. Journ. Science, xxxii, 1886, 343 ; and Seventh Ann. Rept. 
U. S. Geol. Survey, 1888, 486. 

Tlie Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 197 

It is not to be supposed that the Jurassic deformation was 
limited to the area of the Newai'k beds ; it may have extended 
some way on either side ; but it presumably faded out at no 
great distance, for it has not been detected in the history of the 
Atlantic and Mississippi regions remote from the Newark belt. 
In the district of the central folds of Pennsylvania, with which 
we are particularly concerned, this deformation was probably 
expressed in a fui'ther folding and over-pushing of the already 
partly folded beds, with rapidly decreasing effect to the north- 
west ; and perhaps also by slip-faults, which at the surface of the 
ground nearly followed the bedding planes : but this is evidently 
hypothetical to a high degree. The essential point for our sub- 
sequent consideration is that the Jurassic deformation was prob- 
ably accompanied by a moderate elevation, for it allowed the 
erosion of the Newark beds and of laterally adjacent areas as 

11. Jiira- Cretaceous denudation. — In consequence of this ele- 
vation, a new cycle of erosion was entered upon, which I shall 
call the Jura-Cretaceous cycle. It allowed the accomplishment of 
a vast work, which ended in the production of a general lowland 
of denudation, a wide area of faint relief, whose elevated rem- 
nants ai*e now to be seen in the even ridge-crests that so strongly 
characterize the central district, as well as in certain other even 
uplands, now etched by the erosion of a later cycle of destructive 
work. I shall not here take space for the deliberate statement of 
the argument leading to this end, but its elements are as follows : 
the extraordinarily persistent accordance among the crest-line 
altitudes of many Medina and Carboniferous ridges in the central 
district ; the generally corresponding elevation of the western 
plateau surface, itself a surface of erosion, but now trenched by 
relatively deep and narrow valleys ; the generally uniform and 
consistent altitude of the uplands in the crystalline highlands of 
northern New Jersey and in the South Mountains of Pennsyl- 
vania ; and the extension of the same general surface, descending 
slowly eastward, over the even crest-lines of the Newark trap 
ridges. Besides the evidence of less continental elevation thus 
deduced from the topography, it may be noted that a lower stand 
of the land in Cretaceous time than now is indicated by the 
erosion that the Cretaceous beds have suffered in consequence of 
the elevation that followed their deposition. The Cretaceous 
transgression in the western states doubtless bears on the problem 

198 National GeograjpTiic Magazine. 

also. Finally it may be fairly urged that it is more accordant 
with what is known about old mountains in general to suppose 
that their mass has stood at different attitudes with respect to 
base level during their long period of denudation than to suppose 
that they have held one attitude through all the time since their 

It is natural enough that the former maintenance of some lower 
altitude than the present should have expression in the form of 
the country, if not now extinguished by subsequent erosion. It 
is simply the revei'se of this statement that leads us to the above- 
stated conclusion. We may be sure that the long maintained 
period of relative quiet was of great importance in allowing time 
for the mature adjustment of the rivers of the region, and hence 
due account must be taken of it in a later section. I say relative 
quiet, for there were certainly subordinate oscillations of greater 
or less value ; McGee has detected records of one of these about 
the beginning of Cretaceous time, but its effects are not now 
known to be of geographic value ; that is, they do not now mani- 
fest themselves in the form of the present surface of the land, 
but only in the manner of deposition and ancient erosion of cer- 
tain deposits.* Another subordinate oscillation in the sense of a 
moderate depression seems to have extended through middle 
and later Cretaceous time, resulting in an inland transgression of 
the sea and the deposit of the Cretaceous formation unconform- 
ably on the previous land surface for a considerable distance be- 
yond the present margin of the formation. f This is important 
as affecting our rivers. Although these oscillations were of con- 
siderable geological value, I do not think that for the present 
purposes they call for any primary division of the Jura-Creta- 
ceous cycle ; for as the result of this long period of denudation 
we find but a single record in the great lowland of erosion above 
described, a record of prime importance in the geographic devel- 
opment of our region, that will often be referred to. The surface 
of faint relief then completed may be called the Cretaceous base- 
level lowland. It may be pictured as a low, undulating plain of 
wide extent, with a portion of its Atlantic margin submerged 
and covered over with a relatively thin mai'ine deposit of sands, 
marls and clays. 

*Anier. Jour. Science, xxxv, 1888, 367, 448. 

f This statement is based on a study of the geographic evolution of 
nortliern New Jersey, in preparation for publication. 

The Rivers and Yalleys of Pennsyl/vmiia. 199 

12. Tertiary elevation and denudation. — This broad lowland 
IS a lowland no longer. It has been raised over the greater part 
of its area into a highland, with an elevation of from oue to three 
thousand feet, sloping gently eastward and descending under the 
Atlantic level near the present margin of the Cretaceous forma- 
tion. The elevation seems to have taken place early in Tertiary 
time, and will be referred to as of that date. Opportunity was 
then given for the revival of the previously exhausted forces of 
denudation, and as a consequence we now see the formerly even 
siirface of the plain greatly roughened by the incision of deep 
valleys and the opening of broad lowlands on its softer rocks. 
Only the harder rocks retain indications of the even surface 
which once stretched continuously across the whole area. The 
best indication of the average altitude at which the mass stood 
through the greater part of post-Cretaceous time is to be found 
on the weak shales of the Newark formation in New Jersey and 
Pennsylvania, and on the weak Cambrian limestones of the great 
Kittatinny valley ; for both of these areas have been actually 
almost baselevelled again in the Tertiary cycle. They will be 
referred to as the Tertiary baselevel lowlands ; and the valleys 
corresponding to them, cut in the harder rocks, as well as the 
rolling lowlands between the ridges of the central district of 
Pennsylvania will be regarded as of the same date. Whatever 
variations of level occurred in this cycle of development do not 
seem to have left marks of importance on the inland surface, 
though they may have had greater significance near the coast. 

13. Later changes of level. — Again at the close of Tertiary 
time, there was an elevation of moderate amount, and to this niay 
be refei-red the trenches that are so distinctly cut across the Ter- 
tiary baselevel lowland by the larger rivers, as well as the lateral 

Fig. 4. 

shallower channels of the smaller streams. This will be called 
the Quaternary cycle ; and for the present no further mention of 
the oscillations known to have occurred in this division of time 
need be considered ; the reader may find careful discussion of 

200 National Geographic Magazine 



them in the paper by McGee, above 

referred to. It is proper that I should 

11 '^"'^ ^^^ tbat the suggestion of baselevel- 

ling both of the crest-lines and of the 

lowlands, that I have foiind so proiit- 

sf: -i|fl ^-ble in this and other work, is due 

largely to personal conference with 
Messrs. Gilbert and McGee of the Ge- 
ological Survey ; but it is not desired 
to make them in any way responsible 
for the statements here given. 

14. Illustrations of Pennsylvanian 

topography. — A few sketches made 

during a recent recess-trip with several 

students through Pennsylvania may 

= S. " ""-=. -^*^^-' be introduced in this connection. The 

first, fig. 4, is a view from Jenny 

Jump mountain, on the northwestern 

side of the New Jersey highlands, 

I / ^ / % i \,'>--. ""^^"^^^^j- looking northwest across the Kitta- 

tinny valley-lowland to Blue or Kit- 

tatinny mountain, where it is cut at 

the Delaware Water-gap. The extra- 

^•:^^W ^:J \^ ordinarily level crest of the mountain 

* Il4 .ST^i preserves record of the Cretaceous 

-/'// -'V^ baselevel lowland ; since the elevation 

-r'' r ^5/i' of this ancient lowland, its softer rocks 

' ./ "^^^y, have, as it were, been etched out, 

" -Jsv leaving the harder ones in relief ; thus 

-''•^^^1^ the present valley-lowland is to be 

^'^. explained. In consequence of the still 

later elevation of less amount, the 

Delaware has cut a trench in the 

S, present lowland, which is partly seen 

;. "V/" Jb^^. to the left in the sketch. Fig. 5 is a 

J V'ir ^^t general view of the Lehigh plateau 

I :' ::- ^"^P and canon, looking south from Bald 

• j "'^?j Mountain just above Penn Haven 

7 '~^^ Junction. Blue mountain is the most 

-j^^3 distant crest, seen for a little space. 

_^^>.'- The ridges near and above Mauch 

FiQ 5 Chunk form the other outlines ; all 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 


rising to an astonishingly even altitude, in spite of their great 
diversity of structure. Before the existing valleys were exca- 




vated, the upland surface must have been an even plain — the Cre- 
taceous baselevel lowland elevated into a plateau. The valleys 

202 National Geographic Magazine. 

cut into the plateau during the Tertiary cycle are narrow here, 
because the rocks are mostly hard. The steep slopes of the canon- 
like valley of the Lehigh and the even crests of the ridges mani- 
festly belong to difEerent cycles of development. Figs. 6 and 7 
are gaps cut in Black Log and Shade mountain, by a small 
upper branch stream of the Juniata in southeastern Huntingdon 
county. The stream traverses a breached anticlinal of Medina 
sandstone, of which these mountains are the lateral members. A 
long narrow valley is opened on the axial Trenton limestone 
between the two. The gaps are not opposite to each other, and 
therefore in looking through either gap from the outer country 
the even crest of the further ridge is seen beyond the axial valley. 
The gap in Black Log mountain, fig. 6, is located on a small frac- 
ture, but in this respect it is unlike most of its fellows.* The 
striking similarity of the two views illustrates the uniformity that 
so strongly characterizes the Medina ridges of the central district. 
Fig. 8 is in good part an ideal view, based on sketches on the 


Fm. 8. 

upper Susquehanna, and designed to present a typical illustration 
of the more significant features of the region. It shows the even 
crest-lines of a high Medina or Pocono ridge in the background, 
retaining the form given to it in the Cretaceous cycle ; the even 
lowlands in the foreground, opened on the weaker Siluro-Devo- 
nian rocks in the Tertiary cycle ; and the uneven ridges in the mid- 
dle distance marking the Oriskany and Chemung beds of inter- 
mediate hardness that have lost the Cretaceous level and yet have 
not been reduced to the Tertiary lowland. The Susquehanna 
flows distinctly below the lowland plain, and the small side 
streams run in narrow trenches of late Tertiary and Quaternary 

If this interpretation is accepted, and the Permian mountains 
are seen to have been once greatly reduced and at a later time 
worn out, while the ridges of to-day are merely the relief left by 

* Second Geol. Surv. Pa., Report T3, 19. 

The Rivers cmd Yalleys of Pennsylvcmia. 203 

the etching of Tertiary valleys in a Cretaceous baselevelled low- 
land, then we may well conclude with Powell that " mountains 
cannot remain long as mountains ; they are ephemeral topographic 

Part Third. General conception of the history of a river. 

15. 21ie complete cycle of river life: youth., adolescence, matu- 
rity and old age. — The general outline of an ideal river's history 
may he now considered, preparatory to examining the special 
history of the rivers of Pennsylvania, as controlled by the geo- 
logical events just narrated. 

Rivers are so long lived and survive with more or less modifi- 
cation so many changes in the attitude and even in the structure 
of the land, that the best way of entering on their discussion 
seems to be to examine the development of an ideal river of sim- 
ple history, and from the general features thus discovered, it may 
then be possible to unravel the comjjlex sequence of events that 
leads to the present condition of actual rivers of complicated his- 

A river that is established on a new land may be called an ori- 
ginal river. It must at first be of the kind known as a consequent 
river, for it has no ancestor from which to be derived. Exam- 
ples of simple original rivers may be seen in young plains, of 
which southern New Jersey furnishes a fair illustration. Exam- 
ples of essentially original rivers may be seen also in regions of 
recent and rapid displacement, such as the Jura or the broken 
country of southern Idaho, where the directly consequent charac- 
ter of the drainage leads us to conclude that, if any rivers occu- 
pied these regions before their recent deformation, they were so 
completely extinguished by the newly made slopes that we see 
nothing of them now. 

Once established, an original river advances through its long 
life, manifesting certain peculiarities of j^outh, maturity and old 
age, by which its successive stages of growth may be recognized 
without much difficulty. For the sake of simplicity, let us sup- 
pose the land mass, on which an original river has begun its work, 
stands perfectly still after its first elevation or deformation, and 
so remains until the river has completed its task of carrying away 
all the mass of rocks that rise above its baselevel. This lapse of 
time will be called a cycle in the life of a river. A complete 

* Geol. Uinta Mountains, 1876, 196. 

204 National Geographic Magazine. 

cycle is a long measure of time in regions of great elevation or 
of hard rocks ; but whether or not any river ever passed through 
a single cycle of life without interruption we need not now in- 
quire. Our purpose is only to learn what changes it would ex- 
perience if it did thus develop steadily from infancy to old age 
without disturbance. 

In its infancy, the river drains its basin imperfectly ; for it is 
then embarrassed by the original inequalities of the surface, and 
lakes collect in all the depressions. At such time, the ratio of 
evaporation to rainfall is relatively large, and the ratio of trans- 
ported land waste to rainfall is small. The channels followed by 
the streams that compose the river as a whole are narrow and 
shallow, and their number is small compared to that which will be 
developed at a later stage. The divides by which the side-streams 
are separated are poorly marked, and in level countries are sur- 
faces of considerable area and not lines at all. It is only in the 
later maturity of a system that the divides are reduced to lines 
by the consumption of the softer rocks on either side. The differ- 
ence between constructional forms and those forms that are due 
to the action of denuding forces is in a general way so easily 
recognized, that immaturity and maturity of a drainage area cais 
be readily discriminated. In the truly infantile drainage system 
of the Red River of the North, the inter-stream areas are so abso- 
lutely flat that water collects on them in wet weather, not having 
either original structural slope or subsequently developed de- 
nuded slope to lead it to the streams. On the almost equally 
young lava blocks of southern Oregon, the well-marked slopes 
are as yet hardly channeled by the flow of rain down them, and 
the depressions among the tilted blocks are still undrained, un- 
filled basins. 

As the river becomes adolescent, its channels are deepened and 
all the larger ones descend close to baselevel. If local contrasts 
of hardness allow a quick deepening of the down-stream part of 
the channel, while the part next up-stream resists erosion, a cas- 
cade or waterfall results ; but like the lakes of earlier youth, it is 
evanescent, and endures but a small part of the whole cycle of 
growth ; but the falls on the small headwater streams of a large 
river may last into its maturity, just as there are young twigs on 
the branches of a large tree. With the deepening of the chan- 
nels, there comes an increase in the number of gulleys on the 
slopes of the channel ; the gulleys grow into ravines and these 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 205 

into side valleys, joining their master streams at right angles (La 
ISToe and Margerie). With their continued development, the ma- 
turity of the system is reached ; it is marked by an almost com- 
plete acquisition of every part of the original constructional sur- 
face by erosion under the guidance of the streams, so that every 
drop of rain that falls finds a. way prepared to lead it to a stream 
and then to the ocean, its goal. The lakes of initial imperfection 
have long since disappeared ; the waterfalls of adolescence have 
been worn back, unless on the still young headwaters. With the 
increase of the number of side-streams, ramifying into all parts of 
the drainage basin, there is a proportionate increase in the surface 
of the valley slopes, and with this comes an increase in the rate 
of waste under atmospheric forces ; hence it is at maturity that 
the river receives and carries the greatest load ; indeed, the in- 
crease may be carried so far that the lower trunk-stream, of gentle 
slope in its early maturity, is unable to carry the load brought to 
it by the upper branches, and therefore resorts to the temporary 
expedient of laying it aside in a flood-plain. The level of the 
flood-plain is sometimes built up faster than the small side-streams 
of the lower course can fill their valleys, and hence they are con- 
verted for a little distance above their mouths into shallow lakes. 
The growth of the flood-plain also results in carrying the point of 
junction of tributaries farther and farther down stream, and at 
last in turning lateral streams aside from the main stream, some- 
times forcing them to follow independent courses to the sea 
(Lombardini). But although thus separated from the main 
trunk, it would be no more rational to regard such streams as 
independent rivers than it would be to regard the branch of an 
old tree, now fallen to the ground in the decay of advancing age, 
as an independent plant ; both are detached portions of a single 
individual, from which they have been separated in the normal 
processes of growth and decay. 

In the later and qiiieter old age of a river system, the waste of 
the land is yielded slower by reason of the diminishing slopes of 
the valley sides ; then the headwater streams deliver less detritus 
to the main channel, which, thus relieved, turns to its postponed 
task of carrying its former excess of load to the sea, and cuts ter- 
races in its flood-plain, preparatory to sweeping it away. It does 
not always find the buried channel again, and perhaps settling 
down on a low spur a little to one side of its old line, produces a 
rapid or a low fall on the lower slope of such an obstruction 
(Penck), Such courses may be called locally superimposed. 

206 National Geographic Magazine. 

It is only during maturity and for a time before and afterwards 
that the three divisions of a river, commonly recognized, appear 
most distinctly ; the torrent portion being the still young head- 
water branches, growing by gnawing backwards at their sources ; 
the valley portion proper, where longer time of work has enabled 
the valley to obtain a greater depth and width ; and the lower 
flood-plain portion, where the temporary deposition of the excess 
of load is made until the activity of middle life is past. 

Maturity seems to be a proper term to apply to this long en- 
during stage ; for as in organic forms, where the term first came 
into use, it here also signifies the highest development of all func- 
tions between a youth of endeavor towards better work and an 
old age of relinquishment of fullest powers. It is the mature 
river in which the rainfall is best lead away to the sea, and which 
carries with it the greatest load of land waste ; it is at maturity 
that the regular descent and steady flow of the river is best de- 
veloped, being the least delayed in lakes and least overhurried in 
impetuous falls. 

Maturity past, and the power of the river is on the decay. 
The relief of the land diminishes, for the streams no longer 
deepen their valleys although the hill tops are degraded ; and 
with the general loss of elevation, there is a failure of rainfall to 
a certain extent ; for it is well known that up to certain consider- 
able altitudes rainfall increases with height. A hyetographic and 
a hypsometric maj) of a country for this reason show a marked 
correspondence. The slopes of the headwaters decrease and the 
valley sides widen so far that the land waste descends from them 
slower than before. Later, what with failure of rainfall and de- 
crease of slope, there is perhaps a return to the early imperfection 
of drainage, and the number of side streams diminishes as branches 
fall from a dying tree. The flood-plains of maturity are carried 
down to the sea, and at last the river settles down to an old age 
of well-earned rest with gentle flow and light load, little work re- 
maining to be done. The great task that the river entered upon 
is completed. 

16. Mutual adjustment of river courses. — In certain structures, 
chiefly those of mountainous disorder on which the streams are at 
first high above baselevel, there is a process of adjustment ex- 
tremely characteristic of quiet river development, by which the 
down-hill courses that were chosen in early life, and as we may 
say unadvisedly and with the heedlessness and little foresight of 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 207 

youth, are given up for others better fitted for the work of the 
mature river system, A change of this kind happens when the 
young stream taking the lowest line for its guide happens to flow 
on a hard bed at a considerable height above baselevel, while its 
branches on one side or the other have opened channels on softer 
beds : a part of the main channel may then be deserted by the 
withdrawal of its upper waters to a lower course by way of a 
side stream. The change to better adjustment also happens when 
the initial course of the main stream is much longer than a course 
that may be offered to its upper portion by the backward gnaw- 
ing of an adjacent stream (Lowl, Penck). Sometimes the lateral 
cutting or planation that characterizes the main trunk of a mature 
river gives it possession of an adjacent smaller stream whose bed 
is at a higher level (Gilbert). A general account of these pro- 
cesses may be found in Phillippson's serviceable " Studien tiber 
Wasserscheiden " (Leipzig, 1886). This whole matter is of much 
importance and deserves deliberate examination. It should be 
remembered that changes in river courses of the kind now re- 
ferred to are unconnected with any external disturbance of the 
river basin, and are purely normal spontaneous acts during ad- 
vancing development. Two examples, pertinent to our special 
study, will be considered. 

Let AB, fig. 9, be a stream whose initial consequent course led 
it down the gently sloping axial trough of a syncline. The con- 
structional surface of the syncline is shown by contours. Let the 
succession of beds to be discovered by erosion be indicated in a 
section, laid in proper position on the several diagrams, but 
revolved into the horizontal plane, the harder beds being dotted 
and the baselevel standing at 00. Small side streams will soon 
be developed on the slopes of the syncline, in positions determined 
by cross-fractures or more often by what we call accident ; the 
action of streams in similar synclines on the outside of the- 
enclosing anticlines will be omitted for the sake of simplicity. 
In time, the side streams will cut through the harder upper bed M 
and enter the softer bed N, on which longitudinal channels, indi- 
cated by hachures, will be extended along the strike, fig. 10 (La 
Noe and Margerie). Let these be called "subsequent" streams. 
Consider two side streams of this kind, C and D, heading against 
each other at E, one joining the main stream lower down the 
axis of the syncline than the other. The headwaters of C will 
rob the headwaters of D, because the deepening of the channel 


National GeograjpMc Magazine. 

of D is retarded by its having to join the main stream at a point 
where the hard bed in the axis of the fold holds the main channel 

well above baselevel. The notch cut by D will then be changed 
from a water-gap to a wind-gap and the upper portion of D will 
findfexit through the notch cut by C, as in fig. 11, As other sub- 
sequent headwaters make capture of C, the greater depth to which 
the lateral valley is cut on the soft rock causes a slow migration 
of the divides in the abandoned gaps towards the main stream, 
and before long the upper part of the main stream itself will be 
led out of the synclinal axis to follow the monoclinal valley at 
one side for a distance, fig. 12, until the axis can be rejoined 
through the gap where the axial portion of the controlling hard 
bed is near or at baselevel. The upper part of the synclinal 
trough will then be attacked by undercutting on the slope of the 
quickly deepened channels of the lateral streams, and the hard 
bed will be worn away in the higher part of the axis before it is 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 


consumed in the lower part. The location of the successful 
lateral stream on one or the other side of the syncline may be 

Fig. 11. 

Fig. 12. 

Fig. 13. 

determined by the dip of the beds, gaps being cut quicker on 
steep than on gentle dips. If another hard bed is encountered 
below the soft one, the process Avill be repeated ; and the mature 
arrangement of the streams will be as in fig. 13 (on a smaller 
scale than the preceding), running obliquely off the axis of the 
fold where a hard bed of the syncline rises above baselevel, and 
returning to the axis where the hard bed is below or at baselevel ; 
a monoclinal stream wandering gradually from the axis along the 
strike of the soft bed, AE, by which the side-valley is located 
and returning abruptly to the axis by a cataclinal* stream in a 

* See the terminology suggested by Powell. Expl. Col. R. of the "West, 
1875, 160. Thi& terminology is applicable only to the most detailed 
study of our rivers, by reason of their crossing so many folds, and 
changing so often from longitudinal to transverse courses. 


National Geogra^phio Magazine. 

transverse gap, EB, in the next higher hard bed, and there 
rejoining the diminished representative or survivor of the 
original axial or synclinal stream, GB. 

lY. Terminology of rivers changed by adjustment. — A special 
terminology is needed for easy reference to the several parts of 
the streams concerned in such an adjustment. Let AB and 
CD, fig. 14, be streams of unequal size cutting gaps, H and G, in 
a ridge that lies transverse to their course. CD being larger than 
AB will deepen its gap faster. Of two subsequent streams, JE 
and JF, growing on the up-stream side of the ridge, JE will have 
the steeper slope, because it joins the deeper master-stream. The 
divide, J, will therefore be driven towards AB, and if all the 
conditions concerned conspire favorably, JE will at last tap AB 
at F, and lead the upper part, AF, out by the line FEGD, fig. 15, 

Fig. 14. 

Fig. 15. 

through the deeper gap, G. We may then say that JE becomes 
the divertor of AF, which is diverted y' and when the process is 
completed, by the transfer of the divide from J, on the soft rocks, 
to a stable location, H, on the hard rocks, there will be a short 
inverted stream, HF ; while HB is the remaining beheaded 'portion 
of the original stream, AB, and the water-gap of AB becomes a 
wind-gap, H. It is very desirable that geographic exploration 
should discover examples of the process of adjustment in its 
several stages. The preparatory stage is easily recognized by the 
difference in the size of the two main streams, the difference in 
the depth of their gaps, and the unsymmetrical jDosition of the 
divide, J. The very brief stage of transition gives us the rare 
examples of bifurcating streams. For a short time after capture 
of the diverted stream by the divertor, the new divide will lie 
between F and H, in an unstable position, the duration of this 
time depending on the energy of the process of capture. 

The Rivers and Yalleys of Pennsylvania. 


The consequences resulting from readjustments of this kind by 
which their recent occurrence can be detected are : a relatively 
sudden increase of volume of the divertor and hence a rapid 
deepening of the course of the diverting stream, FE, and of the 
diverted, AF, near the point of capture ; small side-streams of 
these two being unable to keep pace with this change will join 
their masters in local rapids, which work up stream gradually 
and fade away (Lowl, Penck, McGee). The expanded portion, 
ED, of the larger stream, CD, already of faint slope, may be 
locally, overcome for a time with the increase of detritus that will 
be thus delivered to it at the entrance, E, of the divertor ; while 
the beheaded stream, HB, will find itself embarrassed to live up 
to the habits of its large valley [Heim]. Geographic exploration 

Fig. 16. Fig. 17. Fig. 18. 

with these matters in mind offers opportunity for the most 
attractive discoveries. 

18. Examples of adjustment. —Another case is roughly figured 

212 National Geographic Magazine. 

in the next three diagrams, figs. 16, 17, 18. Two adjacent syn- 
clinal streams, EA and HB, join a transverse master stream, C, 
but the synclines are of different forms ; the surface axis of one, 
EA, stands at some altitude above baselevel until it nearly reaches 
the place of the transverse stream ; while the axis of the other, 
HB, descends near baselevel at a considerable distance from the 
transverse stream. As lateral valleys, E and D, are opened on 
the anticline between the synclines by a process similar to that 
already described, the divide separating them will shift towards 
the stream of fainter slope, that is, towards the syncline, EA, 
whose axis holds its hard beds above baselevel ; and in time the 
upper part of the main stream will be withdrawn from this syn- 
cline to follow an easier course by crossing to the other, as in fig. 
17. If the elevation of the synclinal axis, AES, take the shape of 
a long flat arch, descending at the further end into a synclinal 
lake basin, S, whose outlet is along the arching axis, SA, then 
the mature arrangement of stream courses will lead the lake 
outlet away from the axis by some gap in the nearer ascending 
part of the arch where the controlling hard bed falls near to 
baselevel, as at F, fig. 18,* and will take it by some subsequent 
course, FD, across the lowland that is opened on the soft beds 
between the synclines, and carry it into the lower syncline, HB, 
at D where the hard beds descend below baselevel. 

The variety of adjustments following the general principle 
here indicated is infinite. Changes of greater or less value are 
thus introduced in the initial drainage areas, until, after attaining 
an attitude of equilibrium, further change is arrested, or if occur- 
ring, is relatively insignificant. It should be noticed that the 
new stream courses thus chosen are not named by any of the 
terms now current to express the relation of stream and land his- 
tory ; they ai-e neither consequent, antecedent nor superimposed. 
The stream is truly still an original stream, although no longer 
• young ; but its channel is not in all parts strictly consequent on 
the initial constructional form of the land that it drains. Streams 
thus re-arranged may therefore be named original streams of 
mature adjustment. 

It should be clearly recognized that the process of adjustment 
is a very slow one, unless measured in the extremely long units 

* This figure would be improved if a greater amount of wasting 
around the margin of the hard bed were indicated in comparison with 
the preceding figure. 

The Rivers and Yalleys of PennsyT/oania. 213 

of a river's life. It progresses no faster than the weathering 
away of the slopes of a divide, and here as a rule weathering is 
deliberate to say the least, unless accelerated by a fortunate com- 
bination of favoring conditions. Among these conditions, great 
altitude of the mass exposed to erosion stands first, and deep 
channeling of streams below the surface — that is, the adolescent 
stage of drainage development — stands second. The opportunity 
for the lateral migration of a divide will depend on the inequality 
of the slopes on its two sides, and here the most important fac- 
tors are length of the two opposite stream courses from the water 
parting to the common baselevel of the two, and inequality of 
structure by which one stream may have an easy course and the 
other a hard one. It is manifest that all these conditions for 
active shifting of divides are best united in young and high 
mountain ranges, and hence it is that river adjustments have 
been found and studied more in the Alps than elsewhere. 

19. Revival of rivers by elevation and drowning by depression. 
— I make no contention that any river in the world ever passed 
through a simple uninterrupted cycle of the orderly kind here 
described. But by examining many rivers, some young and 
some old, I do not doubt that this portrayal of the ideal would 
be found to be fairly correct if opportunity were offered for its 
development. The intention of the sketch is simply to prepare 
the way for the better understanding of our actual rivers of more 
complicated history. 

At the close or at any time during the passage of an initial 
cycle such as the one just considered, the drainage area of a river 
system may be bodily elevated. The river is then turned back 
to a new youth and enters a new cycle of development. This is 
an extremely common occurrence with rivers, whose life is so long 
that they commonly outlive the duration of a quiescent stage in 
the history of the land. Such rivers may be called revived. 
Examples may be given in which streams are now in their second 
or third period of revival, the elevations that separate their cycles 
following so soon that but little work was accomplished in the 
quiescent intervals. 

The antithesis of this is the effect of depression, by which the 
lower course may be drowned, flooded or f jorded. This change 
is, if slow, favorable to the. development of flood-plains in the 
lower course ; but it is not essential to their production. If the 
change is more rapid, open estuaries are formed, to be trans- 
formed to delta-lowlands later on. 

214 National Geographic Magazine. 

20. Opportunity for new adjustments vnth revival. — One of 
the most common effects of the revival of a river by general ele- 
vation is a new adjustment of its course to a greater or less 
extent, as a result of the new relation of baselevel to the hard 
and soft beds on which the streams had adjusted themselves in 
the previous cycle. Synclinal mountains are most easily ex- 
|ilained as results of drainage changes of this kind [Science, Dec. 
2 1st, 1888]. Streams thus rearranged may be said to be adjusted 
through elevation or revival. It is to be hoped that, as our study 
advances, single names of brief and appropriate form may 
replace these paraphrases ; but at present it seems advisable to 
keep the desired idea before the mind by a descriptive phrase, 
even at the sacrifice of brevity. A significant example may be 

Let it be supposed that an originally consequent river system 
has lived into advanced maturity on a surface whose structure is, 
like that of Pennsylvania, composed of closely adjacent anticlinal 
and synclinal folds with rising and falling axes, and that a series 
of particularly resistant beds composes the upper members of the 
folded mass. The master stream. A, fig. 19, at maturity still 
resides whei*e the original folds were lowest, but the side streams 
have departed more less from the axes of the synclinals that they 
first followed, in accordance with the principles of adjustment 
presented above. The relief of the surface is moderate, except 
around the synclinal troughs, where the rising margins of the 
hard beds still appear as ridges of more or less prominence. The 
minute hachures in figure 19 are drawn on the outcrop side of 
these ridges. Now suppose a general elevation of the region, 
lifting the synclinal troughs of the hard beds up to baselevel or 
even somewhat above it. The deepening of the revived master- 
stream will be greatly retarded by reason of its having to cross 
so many outcrops of the hard beds, and thus excellent opportunity 
will be given for readjustment by the growth of some diverting 
stream, B, whose beginning on adjacent softer rocks Avas already 
made in the previous cycle. This will capture the main river at 
some up-stream point, and draw it nearly all away from its hard 
path across the synclinal troughs to an easier path across the low- 
lands that had been opened on the underlying softer beds, leaving 
only a small beheaded remnant in the lower course. The final 
re-arrangement may be indicated in fig. 20. It should be noted 
that every capture of branches of the initial main stream made 

The Rivers and Yalleys of Pennsylvania. 


by the diverting stream adds to its ability for further encroach- 
ments, for with increase of vohime the channel is deepened and a 

Fig. 19. 

Fig. 20. 

flatter slope is assumed, and the whole process of pushing away 
the divides is thereby accelerated. In general it may be said 
that the larger the stream and the less its elevation above base- 
level, the less likely is it to be diverted, for with large volume 
and small elevation it will early cut down its channel so close to 
baselevel that no other stream can offer it a better course to the 
sea ; it may also be said that, as a rule, of two equal streams, the 
headwaters of the one having a longer or a harder course will be 
diverted by a branch of the stream on the shorter or easier 
course. Every case must therefore be examined for itself before 
the kind of re-arrangement that may be expected or that may 
have already taken place can be discovered. 

21. Antecedent and superimposed rivers. — It not infrequently 

happens that the surface, on which a drainage system is more or 

less fully developed, suffers deformation by tilting, folding or 

faulting. Then, in accordance with the rate of disturbance, and 


216 ' National Geographic Magazine. 

dependent on the size and slope of the streams and the resistance 
of the rocks, the streams will be more or less re-arranged, some 
of the larger ones persisting in their courses and cutting their 
channels down almost as fast as the mass below them is raised 
and offered to their action. It is manifest that streams of large 
volume and considerable slope are the ones most likely to per- 
severe in this way, while small streams and large ones of mod- 
erate slope may be turned from their former courses to new 
courses consequent on the new constructional form of the land. 
Hence, after a disturbance, we may expect to find the smaller 
streams of the former cycle pretty completely destroyed, while 
some of the larger ones may still persist ; these would then be 
called antecedent streams in accordance with the nomenclature 
introduced by Powell.* A fuller acquaintance with the develop- 
ment of our rivers will probably give us examples of river sys- 
tems of all degrees of extinction or persistence at times of dis- 

Since Powell introduced the idea of antecedent valleys and 
' Tietze, Medlicott and others showed the validity of the explana- 
tion in other regions than the one for which it was first proposed, 
it has found much acceptance. Lowl's objection to it does not 
seem to me to be nearly so well founded as his suggestion of an 
additional method of river development by means of backward 
headwater erosion and subsequent capture of other streams, as 
already described. And yet I cannot help thinking that the ex- 
planation of transverse valleys as antecedent courses savors of 
the Gordian method of explaining a difficult matter. The case 
of the Green river, to which Powell first gave this explanation, 
seems well supported ; the examples given by Medlicott in the 
Himalayas are as good : but still it does not seem advisable to 
explain all transverse streams in this way, merely because they 
are transverse. Pei'haps one reason why the explanation has 
become so popular is that it furnishes an escape from the old 
catastrophic idea that fractures control the location of valleys, and 
is at the same time fully accordant with the ideas of the unif orm- 
itarian school that have become current in this half of our cen- 
tury. But when it is remembered that most of the streams of a 
region are extinguished at the time of mountain growth, that 
only a few of the larger ones can survive, and that there are 
other ways in which transverse streams may originate,! it is evi- 

* Exploration of the Colorada River of the West, 1875, 153, 163-166. 
fHilber, Pet. Mitth., xxxv, 1889, 13. 

Th,e Riiiers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 217 

dent that the possibility of any given transverse stream being 
antecedent must be regarded only as a suggestion, until some inde- 
pendent evidence is introduced in its favor. This may be difficult 
to find, but it certainly must be searched for ; if not then forth- 
coming, the best conclusion may be to leave the case open until 
the evidence appears. Certainly, if we find a river course that is 
accordant in its location with the complicated results of other 
methods of origin, then the burden of proof may be said to lie 
with those who would maintain that an antecedent origin would 
locate the river in so specialized a manner. Even if a river per- 
sist for a time in an antecedent course, this may not prevent its 
being afterwai-ds affected by the various adjustments and revi- 
vals that have been explained above : rivers so distinctly ante- 
cedent as the Green and the Sutlej may hereafter be more or less 
affected by processes of adjustment, which they are not yet old 
enough to experience. Hence in mountains as old as the Appala- 
chians the courses of the present rivers need not coincide with 
the location of the pre-Permian rivers, even if the latter per- 
sisted in their courses through the growth of the Permian fold- 
ing ; subsequent elevations and adjustments to hard beds, at first 
buried and unseen, may have greatly displaced them, in accord- 
ance with Lowl's principle. 

When the deeper channelling of a stream discovers an uncon- 
formable subjacent terrane, the streams persist at least for a time 
in the courses that were determined in the overlying mass ; they 
are then called superimposed (Powell), inherited (Shaler), or 
epigenetic (Richthofen). Such streams are particularly liable to 
readjustment by transfer of channels from courses that lead them 
over hard beds to others on which the hard beds are avoided ; 
for the first choice of channels, when the unconformable cover 
was still present, was made without any knowledge of the buried 
rock structure or of the difficulties in which the streams would 
be involved when they encountered it. The examples of falls 
produced when streams terrace their flood-plains and run on 
buried spurs has already been referred to as superimposed ; and 
the rivers of Minnesota now disclosing half-buried ledges here 
and there may be instanced as illustrating the transition stage 
between simple consequent courses, determined by the form of 
the drift sheet on which their flow began, and the fully inconse- 
quent courses that will be developed there in the future. 

22. Shnple, compound^ composite and complex rivers. — We 

218 National Geographic Magazine. 

have thus far considered an ideal river. It now seems advisable 
to introduce a few terms with which to indicate concisely certain 
well marked peculiarities in the history of actual rivers. 

An original river has already been defined as one which first 
takes possession of a land area, or which replaces a completely 
extinguished river on a surface of rapid deformation. 

A river may be simple, if its drainage area is of practically one 
kind of structure and of one age ; like the rivers of southern 
New Jersey. Such rivers are generally small. It may be com- 
posite, when drainage areas of different structure are included in 
the basin of a single stream. This is the usual case. 

A compound river is one which is of different ages in its differ- 
ent parts ; as certain rivers of North Carolina, which have old 
headwaters rising in the mountains, and young lower courses 
traversing the coastal plain. 

A river is complex when it has entered a second or later cycle 
of development ; the headwaters of a compound river are there- 
fore complex, while the lower course may be simple, in its first 
cycle. The degree of complexity measures the number of cycles 
that the river has entered. 

When the study of rivers is thus attempted, its necessary com- 
plications may at first seem so great as to render it of no value ; 
but in answer to this I believe that it may be fairly urged that, 
although complicated, the results are true to nature, and if so, 
we can have no ground of complaint against them. Moreover, 
while it is desirable to reduce the study of the development of 
rivers to its simplest form, in order to make it available for in- 
struction and investigation, it must be remembered that this can- 
not be done by neglecting to investigate the whole truth in the 
hope of avoiding too great complexity, but that simplicity can 
be reached safely only through fullness of knowledge, if at all. 

It is with these points in mind that I have attempted to decipher 
the history of the rivers of Pennsylvania. We find in the Sus- 
quehanna, which drains a great area in the central part of the 
state, an example of a river which is at once composite, com- 
pound and highly complex. It drains districts of divers struc- 
ture ; it traverses districts of different ages ; and it is at present 
in its fourth or fifth degree of complexity, its fourth or fifth cycle 
of development at least. In unravelling its history and search- 
ing out the earlier courses of streams which may have long since 
been abandoned in the processes of mature adjustment, it will be 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsyh)ania. 219 

seen that the size of the present streams is not always a measure 
of their previous importance, and to this we may ascribe the 
difficulty that attends the attempt to decipher a river's history 
from general maps of its stream lines. Nothing but a detailed 
examination of geological structure and history suffices to detect 
facts and conditions that are essential to the understanding of 
the result. 

If the postulates that I shall use seem unsound and the argu- 
ments seem overdrawn, error may at least be avoided by not 
holding fast to the conclusions that are presented, for they are 
presented only tentatively. I do not feel by any means abso- 
lutely persuaded of the correctness of the results, but at the 
same time deem them worth giving out for discussion. The 
whole investigation was undertaken as an experiment to see where 
it might lead, and with the hope that it might lead at least to 
a serious study of our river problems. 

Part Fourth. The development of the rivers of Pennsylvania. 

23. Means of distinguishing between antecedent and adjusted 
consequent rivers. — The outline of the geological history of Penn- 
sylvania given above affords means of dividing the long progress 
of the development of our rivers into the several cycles which 
make up their complete life. We must go far back into the past 
and imagine ancient streams flowing down from the Archean 
land towards the paleozoic sea ; gaining length by addition to 
their lower portions as the land grew with the building on of 
successive mountain ranges ; for example, if there were a (Jam- 
bro-Silurian deformation, a continuation of the Green Mountains 
into Pennsylvania, we suppose that the pi-e-existent sti-eams must 
in some manner have found their way westward to the new coast- 
line ; and from the date of this mountain growth, it is apparent 
that any streams then born must have advanced far in their 
history before the greater Appalachian disturbance began. At 
the beginning of the latter, as* of the former, there must have 
been streams running from the land into the sea, and at times of 
temporary elevation of the broad sand-flats of the coal measures, 
such streams must have had considerable additions to their lower 
length ; rising in long-growing Archean highlands or mountains, 
snow-capped and drained by glaciers for all we can say to the 
contrary, descending across • the Green Mountain belt, by that 
time worn to moderate relief in the far advanced stage of its 

320 National GeograjpTiic Magazine. 

topographic development, and finally flowing across the coal- 
measure lowlands of recent appearance. It was across the lower 
courses of such rivers that the Appalachian folds were formed, 
and the first step in our problem consists in deciding if possible 
whether the streams held their courses after the antecedent fash- 
ion, or whether they were thrown into new courses by the grow- 
ing folds, so that a new drainage systen would be formed. Possi- 
bly both conditions prevailed ; the larger streams holding their 
courses little disturbed, and the smaller ones disappearing, to be 
replaced by others as the slopes of the growing surface should 
demand. It is not easy to make choice in this matter. To de- 
cide that the larger streams persisted and are still to be seen in 
the greater rivers of to-day, only reversed in direction of flow, 
is certainly a simple method of treating the problem, but unless 
some independent reasons are found for this choice, it savors of 
assumption. Moreover, it is diflicult to believe that any streams, 
even if antecedent and more or less persistent for a time during 
the mountain growth, could preserve till now their pre-Appa- 
lachain courses through all the varying conditions presented by 
the alternations of hard and soft rocks through which they have 
had to cut, and at all the different altitudes above baselevel in 
which they have stood. A better means of deciding the question 
will be to admit pi'ovisionally the occurrence of a completely 
original system of consequent drainage, located in perfect accord 
with the slopes of the growing mountains ; to study out the 
changes of stream-courses that' would result from later disturb- 
ances and from the mutual adjustments of the several members 
of such a system in the different cycles of its history ; and finally 
to compare the courses thus deduced with those now seen. If 
there be no accord, either the method is wrong or the streams are 
not consequent but of some other origin, such as antecedent ; if 
the accord between deduction and fact be well marked, varying 
only where no definite location can be given to the deduced 
streams, but agreeing where they 'can be located more precisely, 
then it seems to me that the best conclusion is distinctly in favor 
of the correctness of the deductions. For it is not likely, even 
if it be possible, that antecedent streams should have accident- 
ally taken, before the mountains were formed, just such locations 
as would have resulted from the subsequent growth of the moun- 
tains and from the complex changes in the initial river courses 
due to later adjustments. I shall therefore follow the deductive 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pen^isylvania. 221 

method thus indicated and attempt to trace out the history of a 
completely original, consequent system of drainage accordant 
with the growth of the central mountain district. 

In doing this, it is first necessary to restore the constructional 
topography of the region ; that is, the form that the sui'face 
would have had if no erosion had accompanied its deformation. 
This involves certain postulates which must be clearly conceived 
if any measure of confidence is to be gained in the results based 
upon them. 

24. Post-dates of the argument. — In the first place, I assume 
an essential constancy in the thickness of the paleozoic sediments 
over the entire area in question. This is warranted here because 
the known variations of thickness are relatively of a second 
order, and will not affect the distribution of high and low ground 
as produced by the intense Permian folding. The reasons for 
maintaining that the whole series had a considerable extension 
southeast of the present margin of the Medina sandstone have 
already been presented. 

In the second place, I shall assume that the dips and folds of 
the beds now exposed at the surface of the ground may be pro- 
jected upwards into the air in order to restore the form of the 
eroded beds. This is certainly inadmissible in detail, for it can- 
not be assumed that the folded slates and limestones of the 
Nittany vailey, for instance, give any close indication of the 
form that the coal measures would have taken, had they extended 
over this district, unworn. But in a general way, the Nittany 
massif was a complex arch in the coal measures as well as in the 
Cambrian beds ; for our purpose and in view of the moderate 
relief of the existing topography, it suffices to say that wherever 
the lower rocks are now revealed in anticlinal structure, there 
was a great upfolding and elevation of the original surface ; and 
wherever the higher rocks are still preserved, there was a relatively 
small elevation. 

In the third place, I assume that by reconstructing from the 
completed folds the form which the country would have had if 
vinworn, we gain a sufficiently definite picture of the form through 
which it actually passed at the time of initial and progressive 
folding. The difference between the form of the folds com- 
pletely restored and the form that the surface actually reached is 
rather one of degree than of kind ; the two must correspond in 
the general distribution of high and low ground and this is the 

222 National Geographic Magazine. 

chief consideration in onr problem. When we remember how 
accurately water finds its level, it will be clearer that what is 
needed in the discussion is the location of the regions that were 
relatively raised and lowered, as we shall then have marked out 
the general course of the consequent water ways and the trend of 
the intervening constructional ridges. 

Accepting these postulates, it may be said in brief that the 
outlines of the formations as at present exposed are in effect So 
many contour lines of the old constructional surface, on which 
the Permian rivers took their consequent courses. Where the 
Trenton limestone is now seen, the greatest amount of overlying 
strata must have been removed ; hence the outline of the Trenton 
formation is our highest contour line. Where the Helderberg 
limestone appears, there has been a less amount of material 
removed ; hence the Helderberg outcrop is a contour of less 
elevation. Where the coal beds still are preserved, there has 
been least wasting, and these beds therefore mark the lowest 
contour of the early surface. It is manifest that this method 
assumes that the present outci'ops are on a level surface ; this is 
not true, for the ridges through the State rise a thousand feet 
more or less over the intervening valley lowlands, and yet the 
existing relief does not count for much in discussing the enormous 
relief of the Permian surface that must have been measured in 
tens of thousands of feet at the time of its greatest strength. 

25. Constructional Permian topography and consequent drain- 
age. — A rough restoration of the early constructional topography 
is given in fig. 21 for the central part of the State, the closest 
shading being the area of the Trenton limestone, indicating the 
highest ground, or better, the places of greatest elevation, while 
the Carboniferous area is unshaded, indicating the early lowlands. 
The prevalence of northeast and southwest trends was then even 
more pronounced than now. Several of the stronger elements of 
form deserve names, for convenient reference. Thus we have 
the great Kittatinny or Cumberland highland, C, C, on the south- 
east, backed by the older mountains of Cambrian and Archean 
rocks, falling by the Kittatinny slope to the synclinal lowland 
troughs of the central district. In this lower ground lay the 
synclinal troughs of the eastern coal regions, and the more local 
Broad Top basin, BT, on the southwest, then better than now 
deserving the name of basins. Beyond the corrugated area that 
connected the coal basins rose the great Mttany highland, N, 

The Rivers imd Valleys of Pennsylvania. 


224 National Geographic Magazine. 

and its southwest extension in the Bedford range, with the 
less conspicuous Kishicoquilas highland, K, in the foreground. 
Beyond all stretched the great Alleghany lowland plains. The 
names thus suggested are compounded of the local names of to- 
day and the morphological names of Permian time. 

What would be the drainage of such a country ? Deductively 
we are led to believe that it consisted of numerous streams as 
marked in full lines on the figure, following synclinal axes until 
some master streams led them across the intervening anticlinal 
ridges at the lowest points of their crests and away into the open 
country to the northwest. All the enclosed basins woUld hold 
lakes, overflowing at the lowest part of the rim. The general 
discharge of the whole system would be to the northwest. Here 
again we must resort to special names for the easy indication of 
these well-marked features of the ancient and now apparently lost 
drainage system. The master stream of the region is the great 
Anthracite river, carrying the overflow of the Anthracite lakes 
off to the northwest and there perhaps turning along one of the 
faintly marked synclines of the plateau and joining the original 
Ohio, which was thus confirmed in its previous location across the 
Cai'boniferous marshes. The synclinal streams that entered the 
Anthracite lakes from the southwest may be named, beginning on 
the south, the Swatara, S, fig, 21, the Wiconisco, Wo, the Tus- 
carora-Mahanoy, M, the Juniata-Catawissa, C, and the Wyoming, 
Wy. One of these, probably the fourth, led the overflow from 
the Broad Top lake into the Catawissa lake on the middle Anthra- 
cite river. The Nittany highland formed a strong divide between 
the central and northwestern rivers, and on its outer slope there 
must have been streams descending to the Alleghany lowlands ; 
and some of these may be regarded as the lower courses of Car- 
boniferous rivers, that once rose in the Archean mountains, now 
beheaded by the growth of mountain ranges across their middle. 

26. The Jura moxintaiiis homologous with the Permian Alle- 
ghanies. — However willing one may be to grant the former 
existence of such a drainage system as the above, an example of 
a similar one still in existence would be acceptable as a witness 
to the possibilities of the past. Therefore we turn for a moment 
to the Jura mountains, always compared to the Appalachians on 
account of the regular series of folds by which the two are char- 
acterized. But while the initial topography is long lost in our 
old mountains, it is still clearly perceptible in the young Jura> 

The Rivers cmd Valleys of Penvisylvcmia. 225 

where the anticlines are still ridges and the longitudinal streams 
still follow the synclinal troughs ; while the transverse streams 
cross from one synclinal valley to another at points where the 
intervening anticlinal arches are lowest.* We could hardly ask 
for better illustration of the deductive drainage system of our 
early Appalachians than is here presented. 

27. Development and adjustment of the Perm,ian drainage. — : 
The problem is now before us. Can the normal sequence of 
changes in the regular course of river development, aided by the 
post-Permian deformations and elevations, evolve the existing 
rivers out of the ancient ones ? 

In order to note the degree of comparison that exists between 
the two, several of the larger rivers of to-day are dotted on the 
figure. The points of agreement are indeed few and small. 
Perhaps the most important ones are that the Broad Top region 
is drained by a stream, the Juniata, which for a short distance 
follows near the course predicted for it ; and that the Nittany 
district, then a highland, is still a well-marked divide although now 
a lowland. But there is no Anthracite river, and the region of 
the ancient coal-basin lakes is now avoided by large streams ; con- 
versely, a great river — the Susquehanna — appears where no con- 
sequent river ran in Permian time, and the early synclinal streams 
frequently turn from the structural troughs to valleys located on 
the structural arches. 

28. Lateral water gaps near the apex of synclinal ridges. — One 
of the most frequent discrepancies between the hypothetical and 
actual streams is that the latter never follow the axis of a descend- 
ing syncline along its whole length, as the original streams must 
have done, but depart for a time from the axis and then return 
to it, notching the ridge formed on any hard bed at the side 
instead of at the apex of its curve across the axis of the syncline. 
There is not a single case in the state of a stream cutting a gap 
at the apex of such a synclinal curve, but there are perhaps hun- 
dreds of cases where the streams notch the curve to one side of 
the apex. This, however, is precisely the arrangement attained 
hj spontaneous adjustment from an initial axial course, as indi- 
cated in figure 13. The gaps may be located on small transverse 
faults, but as a rule they seem to have no such guidance. It is 
true that most of our streams now run out of and not into the 

* This is beautifully illustrated in the recent monograph by La Noe 
and Margerie on " Les Formes du Terrain." 

226 National Geographic Magazine. 

synclinal basins, but a reason for this will be found later ; for the 
present we look only at the location of the streams, not at their 
direction of flow. As far as this illustration goes, it gives evidence 
that the smaller streams at least possess certain peculiarities that 
could not be derived from persistence in a previous accidental lo- 
cation, but which would be necessarily derived from a process of 
adjustment following the original establishment of strictly conse- 
quent streams. Hence the hypothesis that these smaller streams 
were long ago consequent on the Permian folding receives con- 
firmation ; but this says nothing as to the origin of the larger 
rivers, which might at the same time be antecedent. 

29. Departure of the Juniata from the Juniata- Gatawissa syii- 
cline. — It may be next noted that the drainage of the Broad Top 
region does not follow a single syncline to the Anthracite region, 
as it should have in the initial stage of the consequent Permian 
drainage, but soon turns aside from the syncline in which it 
starts and runs across country to the Susquehanna. It is true 
that in its upper course the Juniata departs from the Broad Top 
region by one of the two synclines that were indicated as the 
probable line of discharge of the ancient Broad Top lake in our 
restoration of the constructional topography of the State ; there 
does not appear to be any significant difference between the summit 
altitudes of the Tuscarora-Mahanoy and the Juniata-Catawissa 
synclinal axes and hence the choice must have been made for 
reasons that cannot be detected ; or it may be that the syncline 
lying more to the northwest was raised last, and for this reason 
was taken as the line of overflow. The beginning of the river is 
therefore not discordant with the hypothesis of consequent 
drainage, but the southward departure from the Catawissa 
syncline at Lewistown remains to be explained. It seems to me 
that some reason for the departure may be found by likening it 
to the case already given in figs. 16-18. The several synclines 
with which the Juniata is concerned have precisely the relative 
attitudes that are there discussed. The Juniata-Catawissa syn- 
cline has parallel sides for many miles about its middle, and 
hence must have long maintained the initial Juniata well above 
baselevel over all this distance ; the progress of cutting down a 
channel through all the hard Carboniferous standstones for so 
great a distance along the axis must have been exceedingly slow. 
But the synclines next south, the Tuscarora-Mahanoy and the 
Wiconisco, plunge to the northeast more rapidly, as the rapid 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 227 

divergence of their margins demonstrates, and must for this 
reason have carried the hard sandstones below baselevel in a 
shorter distance and on a steeper slope than in the Catawissa 
syncline. The further soiithwestward extension of the Pocono 
sandstone ridges in the southern than in the northern syncline 
gives further illustration of this peculiarity of form. Lateral 
capture of the Juniata by a branch of the initial Tuscarora, and 
of the latter by a branch of the Wiconisco therefore seems pos- 
sible, and the accordance of the facts with so highly specialized 
an arrangement is certainly again indicative of the correctness 
of the hypothesis of consequent drainage, and this time in a 
larger stream than before. At first sight, it appears that an 
easier lateral capture might have been made by some of the 
streams flowing from the outer slope of the Nittany highland ; 
but this becomes improbable when it is perceived that the heavy 
Medina sandstone would here have to be worn through as well as 
the repeated arches of the Cai'boniferous beds in the many high 
folds of the Seven Mountains. Again, as far as present appear- 
ances go, we can give no sufficient reason to explain why posses- 
sion of the headwaters of the Juniata was not gained by some 
subsequent stream of its own, such as G, fig. 18, instead of by a 
side-stream of the river in the neighboring syncline ; but it may 
be admitted, on the other hand, that as far as we can estimate 
the chances for conquest, there was nothing distinctly in favor of 
one or the other of the side-streams concerned ; and as long as 
the problem is solved indifferently in favor of one or the other, 
we may accept the lead of the facts and say that some control 
not now apparent determined that the diversion should be, as 
drawn, through D and not through G. The detailed location of 
the Juniata in its middle course below Lewistown will be con- 
sidered in a later section. 

30. Avoidance of the Broad Top basin by the Juniata head- 
waters. — Another highly characteristic change that the Juniata 
has suffered is revealed by examining the adjustments that 
would have taken place in the general topography of the Broad 
Top district during the Perm-Triassic cycle of erosion. When 
the basin, BT, fig. 22, was first outlined, centripetal streams 
descended its slopes from all sides and their waters accumu- 
lated as a lake in the center, overflowing to the east into the 
subordinate basin, A, in the Juniata syncline along side of the 
larger basin, and thence escaping northeast. In due time, the 


National Geogra/pMo Magazine. 

breaching of the slopes opened the softer Devonian rocks beneath 
and peripheral lowlands were opened on them. The process by 
which the Juniata departed from its original axial location, J, 
fig. 22, to a parallel course on the southeastern side of the syn- 
cline, J, fig. 23, has been described (fig. 18). The subsequent 
changes are manifest. Some lateral branch of the Juniata, like 
N, fig. 23, would work its way around the northern end of the 
Broad Top canoe on the soft underlying rocks and capture the 
axial stream, C, that came from the depression between Nittany 
and Kishicoquillas highlands ; thus reenfoi'ced, capture would be 
made of a radial stream from the west, Tn, the existing Tyrone 
branch of the Juniata ; in a later stage the other streams of the 
western side of the basin would be acquired, their divertor con- 
stituting the Little Juniata of to-day; and the end would be 
when the original Juniata, A, fig. 22, that once issued from the 
subordinate synclinal as a large stream, had lost all its western 
tributaries, and was but a shrunken beheaded remnant of a river, 
now seen in Aughwick creek, A, fig. 24. In the meantime, the 

Fig. 22. 

Fig. 23. 

Fig. 24. 

former lake basin was fast becoming a synclinal mountain of 
diminishing perimeter. The only really mysterious courses of 
the present streams are where the Little Juniata runs in and out 
of the western border of the Broad Top synclinal, and where the 
Frankstown (FT) branch of the Juniata maintains its independ- 
ent gap across Tussey's mountain (Medina), although diverted to 
the Tyrone or main Juniata (Tn) by Warrior's ridge (Oriskany) 
just below. At the time of the early predatory growth of the ini- 
tial divertor, N, its course lay by the very conditions of its growth 

The Ri/vers and Yalleys of Pennsylvania. 229 

on only the weakest rocks ; but after this little stream had grown 
to a good-sized river, further rising of the land, probably in the 
time of the Jurassic elevation, allowed the river to sink its 
channel to a greater depth, and in doing so, it encountered the 
hard Medina anticline of Jack's mountain ; here it has since 
persisted, because, as we may suppose, there has been no stream 
able to divert the course of so large a river from its crossing of a 
single hard anticlinal. 

The doubt that one must feel as to the possibility of the pro- 
cesses just outlined arises, if I may gauge it by my own feeling, 
rather from incredulity than from direct objections. It seems 
incredible that the waste of the valley slopes should allow the 
backward growth of N at such a rate as to enable it to capture 
the heads of C, Tn, F, and so on, before they had cut their beds 
down close enough to the baselevel of the time to be safe from 
capture. But it is difficult to urge explict objections against the 
process or to show its quantitative insufficiency. It must be re- 
membered that when these adjustments were going on, the region 
was one of great altitude, its rocks then had the same strong 
contrasts of strength and weakness that are so apparent in the 
present relief of the surface and the streams concerned were of 
moderate size ; less than now, for at the time, the Tyrone, 
Frankstown and Bedford head branches of the Juniata had not 
acquired drainage west of the great Nittany-Bedford anticlinal 
axis, but were supplied only by the rainfall on its eastern slope 
(see section 39) — and all these conditions conspired to favor the 
adjustment. Finally, while apparently extraordinary and difficult 
of demonstration, the explanation if applicable at all certainly 
gives rational correlation to a number of peculiar and special 
stream courses in the upper Juniata district that are meaningless 
under any other theory that has come to my notice. It is chiefly 
for this reason that I am inclined to accept the explanation. 

31. Reversal of larger rivers to southeast courses. — Our large 
rivers at present flow to the southeast, not to the northwest. 
It is difficult to find any precise date for this reversal of flow 
from the initial hypothetical direction, but it may be suggested 
that it occurred about the time of the Triassic depression of the 
Newark belt. We have been persuaded that much time elapsed 
between the Permian folding and the Newark deposition, even 
under the most liberal allowance for pre-Permian erosion in the 
Newark belt ; hence when the depression began, the rivers must 

230 National Geogra/phic Magazme. 

have had but moderate northwestward declivity. The depres- 
sion and submergence of the broad Newark belt may at this time 
have broken the continuity of the streams that once flowed 
across it. The headwater streams from the ancient Archean 
country maintained their courses to the depression ; the lower 
portions of the rivers may also have gone on as before ; but the 
middle courses were perhaps turned from the central part of the 
state back of the Newark belt. No change of attitude gives so 
fitting a cause of the southeastward flow of our rivers as this. 
The only test that I have been able to devise for the suggestion is 
one that is derived from the relation that exists between the loca- 
tion of the Newark belt along the Atlantic slope and the course of 
the neighboring transverse rivers. In Pennsylvania, where the 
belt reaches somewhat beyond the northwestern margin of the 
crystalline rocks in South mountain, the streams are reversed, as 
above stated ; but in the Garolinas where the Newark belt lies far 
to the east of the boun'dary between the Cambrian and crystal- 
line rocks, the Tennessee streams persevere in what we suppose 
to have been their original direction of flow. This may be 
interpreted as meaning that in the latter region, the Newark 
depression was not felt distinctly enough, if at all, within the 
Alleghany belt to reverse the flow of the streams ; while in the 
former region, it was nearer to these streams and determined a 
change in their courses. The original Anthracite river ran to the 
northwest, but its middle course was afterwards turned to the 

I am free to allow that this has the appearance of heaping 
hypothesis on hypothesis ; but in no other way does the analysis 
of the history of our streams seem possible, and the success of 
the experiment can be judged only after making it. At the 
same time, I am constrained to admit that this is to my own view 
the least satisfactory of the suggestions here presented. It may 
be correct, but there seems to be no sufficient exclusion of other 
possibilities. For example, it must not be overlooked that, if 
the Anthracite river ran southeast during Newark deposition, the 
formation of the Newark northwestward monocline by the 
Jurassic tilting would have had a tendency to turn the river 
back again to its northwest flow. But as the drainage of the 
region is still southeastward, I am tempted to think that the 
Jurassic tilting was not here strong enough to reverse the flow of 
so strong and mature a river as the Anthracite had by that time 

The Rivers and Yalleys of Pennsylvania. 231 

come to be ; and that the elevation that accompanied the tilting 
was not so powerful in reversing the river to a northwest course 
as the previous depression of the Newark basin had been in 
turning it to the southeast. If the Anthracite did continue to 
flow to the southeast, it may be added that the down-cutting of 
its upper branches was greatly retarded by the decrease of slope 
in its lower course when the monocline was formed. 

The only other method of reversing the original northwest- 
ward flow of the streams that I have imagined is by capture of 
their headwaters by Atlantic rivers. This seems to me less efi:'ec- 
tive than the method just considered ; but they are not mutu- 
ally exclusive and the actual result may be the sum of the two 
processes. The outline of the idea is as follows. The long con- 
tinued supply of sedimentary material from the Archean land on 
the southeast implies that it was as continually elevated. But 
there came a time when there is no record of further supply of 
material, and when we may therefore suppose the elevation was 
no longer maintained. From that time onward, the Archean 
range must have dwindled away, what with the encroachment of 
the Atlantic on its eastern shore and the general action of denud- 
ing forces on its surface. The Newark depression was an effec- 
tive aid to the same end, as has been stated above, and for a 
moderate distance westward of the depressed belt, the former 
direction of the streams must certainly have been reversed ; but 
the question remains whether this reversal extended as far as the 
Wyoming basin, and whether the subsequent formation of the 
Newark monocline did not undo the effect of the Newark depres- 
sion. It is manifest that as far as our limited knowledge goes, it 
is impossible to estimate these matters quantitatively, and hence 
the importance of looking for additional processes that may sup- 
plement the effect of the Newark depression and counteract the 
effect of the Newark uplift in changing the course of the rivers. 
Let it be supposed for the moment that at the end of the Jurassic 
uplift by which the Newark monocline was formed, the divide 
between the Ohio and the Atlantic drainage lay about the middle 
of the Newark belt. There was a long gentle descent westward 
from this watershed and a shoi'ter and hence steeper descent east- 
ward. Under such conditions, the divide must have been pushed 
westward, and as long as the. rocks were so exposed as to open 
areas of weak sediments on which capture by the Atlantic streams 
could go on with relative rapidity, the westward migration of the 


232 National Geographic Magazine. 

divide would be important. For this reason, it might be carried 
from the Newark belt as far as the present Alleghany front, 
beyond which further pushing would be slow, on account of the 
broad stretch of country there covered by hard horizontal beds. 

The end of this is that, under any of the circumstances here 
detailed, there would be early in the Jurassic-Cretaceous cycle a 
distinct tendency to a westward migration of the Atlantic-Ohio 
divide ; it is the consequences of this that have now to be 

32. Capture of the Anthracite headwaters by the growing Sus- 
quehanna. — Throughout the Perm-Triassic period of denudation, 
a great work was done in wearing down the original Alleghanies. 
Anticlines of hard sandstone were breached, and broad lowlands 
were opened on the softer rocks beneath. Little semblance of 
the early constructional topography remained when the period of 
Newark depression was brought to a close ; and all the while the 
headwater streams of the region were gnawing at the divides^ 
seeking to develop the most perfect arrangement of waterways. 
Several adjustments have taken place, and the larger streams 
have been reversed in the direction of their flow ; but a more 
serious problem is found in the disappearance of the original 
master stream, the great Anthracite river, which must have at 
first led away the water from all the lateral synclinal streams. 
Being a large riyer, it could not have been easily diverted from 
its course, unless it was greatly retarded in cutting down its 
channel by the presence of many beds of hard rocks on its way. 
The following considerations may perhaps throw some light on 
this obscure point. 

It may be assumed that the whole group of mountains formed 
by the Permian deformation had been reduced to a moderate 
relief when the Newark deposition was stopped by the Jurassic 
elevation. The harder ribs of rock doubtless remained as ridges 
projecting above the intervening lowlands, but the strength of 
relief that had been given by the constructional forces had 
been lost. The general distribution of residual elevations then 
remaining unsubdued is indicated in fig. 25, in which the 
Crystalline, the Medina, and the two Carboniferous sandstone 
ridges are denoted by appropriate symbols. In restoring this 
phase of the surface form, when the country stood lower than 
now, I have reduced the anticlines from their present outlines 
and increased the synclines, the change of area being made 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 


234 National Geographic Magazine. 

greatest where the dips are least, and hence most apparent at the 
ends of the plunging anticlines and synclines. Some of the 
Medina anticlines of Perry and Juniata counties are not indi- 
cated because they were not then uncovered. The country 
between the residual ridges of Jurassic time was chiefly Cam- 
brian limestone and Siluro-Devonian shales and soft sandstones. 
The moderate ridges developed on the Oriskany and Chemung 
sandstones are not represented. The drainage of this stage 
retained the original courses of the streams, except for the 
adjustments that have been described, but the great Anthracite 
river is drawn as if it had been controlled by the Newark depres- 
sion and reversed in the direction of its flow, so that its former 
upper course on the Cambrian rocks was replaced by a superim- 
posed Newark lower course. Fig. 26 therefore represents the 
streams for the most part still following near their synclinal axes, 
although departing from them where they have to enter a syncli- 
nal cove-mountain ridge ; the headwaters of the Juniata avoid 
the mass of hard sandstones discovered in the bottom of old 
Broad Top lake, and flow around them to the north, and then by 
a cross-country course to the Wiconisco synclinal, as already 
described in detail. Several streams come from the northeast, 
entering the Anthracite district after the fashion generalized in 
fig. 13. Three of the many streams that were developed on the 
great Kittatinny slope are located, with their direction of flow 
reversed ; these are marked Sq, L and D, and are intended to 
represent the ancestors of the existing Susquehanna, Lehigh and 
Delaware. We have now to examine the opportunities offered to 
these small streams to increase their drainage areas. 

The Jurassic elevation, by which the Newark deposition was 
stopped, restored to activity all the streams that had in the 
previous cycle sought and found a course close to baselevel. 
They now all set to work again deepening their channels. But 
in this restoration of lost activity with reference to a new base- 
level there came the best possible chance for numerous re-arrange- 
ments of drainage areas by mutual adjustment into which we 
must inquire. 

I have already illustrated what seems to me to be the type of 
the conditions involved at this time in figs. 19 and 20. The 
master stream, A, ti-a versing the synclines, corresponds to the 
reversed Anthracite river ; the lowlands at the top are those 
that have been opened out on the Siluro-Devonian beds of the 

The Rmers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 235 

present Siisquehanna middle course between the Pocono and the 
Medina ridges. The small stream, B, that is gaining drainage 
area in these lowlands, corresponds to the embryo of the present 
Susquehanna, Sq, fig. 25, this having been itself once a branch on 
the south side of the Swatara synclinal stream, fig. 21, from 
which it was first turned by the change of slope accompanying 
the Newark depression ; but it is located a little farther west 
than the actual Susquehanna, so as to avoid the two synclinal 
cove mountains of Pocono sandstone that the Susquehanna now 
traverses, for reasons to be stated below (section 35). This 
stream had to cross only one bed of hard rock, the outer wall of 
Medina sandstone, between the broad inner lowlands of the rela- 
tively weak Siluro-Devonian rocks and the great valley lowlands 
on the still weaker Cambrian limestones. Step by step it must 
have pushed its headwater divide northward, and from time to 
time it would have thus captured a subsequent stream, that crossed 
the lowlands eastward, and entered a Carboniferous syncline by 
one of the lateral gaps ah-eady described. With every such 
capture, the power of the growing stream to capture others was 
increased. Fig. 19 represents a stage after the streams in the 
Swatara and Wiconisco synclines (the latter then having gained 
the Juniata) had been turned aside on their way to the Carbon- 
iferous basins. On the other hand, the Anthracite river, rising 
somewhere on the plains north of the Wyoming syncline and 
pursuing an irregular course from one coal basin to another, 
found an extremely difficult task in cutting down its channel 
across the numerous hard beds of the Carboniferous sandstones, 
so often repeated in the rolling folds of the coal fields. It is also 
im-portant to remember that an aid to other conditions concerned 
in the diversion of the upper Anthracite is found in the decrease 
of slope that its lower course suffered in crossing the coal fields, 
if that area took any part in the deformation that produced the 
Newark monocline — whichever theory prove true in regard to 
the origin of the southeastward flow of the rivers — for loss of 
slope in the middle course, where the river had to cross many 
reefs of hai'd sandstone, would have been very effective in length- 
ening the time allowed for the diversion of the headwaters. 

The question is, therefore, whether the retardation of down- 
cutting here experienced by the Anthracite was sufficient to 
allow the capture of its headwaters by the Susquehanna. There 
can be little doubt as to the correct quality of the process, but 

236 National Geographic Magazine. 

whether it was quantitatively sufficient is another matter. In the 
absence of any means of testing its sufficiency, may the result not 
be taken as the test ? Is not the correspondence between deduc- 
tion and fact close enough to prove the correctness of the deduc- 
tion ? 

33. Present outward drainage of the Anthracite basins. — The 
Lehigh, like the Susquehanna, made an attempt to capture the 
headwaters of adjacent streams, but failed to acquire much terri- 
tory from the Anthracite because the Carboniferous sandstones 
spread out between the two in a broad plateau of hai'd rocks, 
across which the divide made little movement. The plateau area 
that its upper branches drain is, I think, the conquest of a later 
cycle of growth. The Delaware had little success, except as 
against certain eastern synclinal branches of the Anthracite, for 
the same reason. The ancestor of the Swatara of to-day made 
little progress in extending its headwaters because its point of 
attack was against the repeated Carboniferous sandstones in 
the Swatara synclinal. One early stream alone found a favorable 
opportunity for conquest, and thus grew to be the master river — 
the Susquehanna of to-day. The head of the Anthracite was 
carried away by this captor, and its beheaded lower portion 
remains in our Schuylkill. The Anthracite coal basins, formerly 
drained by the single master stream, have since been apportioned 
to the surrounding rivers. As the Siluro-Devonian lowlands were 
opened around the coal-basins, especially on the north and west, 
the streams that formerly flowed into the basins were gradually 
inverted and flowed out of them, as they still do. The extent of 
the inversion seems to be in a general way proportionate to its 
opportunity. The most considerable conquests were made in the 
upper basins, where the Catawissa and Nescopec streams of to- 
day drain many square miles of wide valleys opened on the 
Mauch Chunk red shale between the Pocono and Pottsville. sand- 
stone ridges ; the ancient middle waters of the Anthracite here 
being inverted to the Susquehanna tributaries, because the 
northern coal basins were degraded very slowly after the upper 
Anthracite had been diverted. The Schuylkill as the modern 
representative of the Anthracite retains only certain streams 
south of a medial divide between Nescopec and Blue mountains. 
The only considerable part of the old Anthracite river that still re- 
tains a course along the axis of a synclinal trough seems to be that 
part which follows the Wyoming basin ; none of the many other 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 23Y 

coal basins are now occupied by the large stream that originally 
followed them. The reason for this is manifestly to be found in 
the great depth of the Wyoming basin, whereby the axial portion 
of its hard sandstones are even now below baselevel, and hence 
have never yet acted to throw the river from its axial course. 
Indeed, during the early cycles of denudation, this basin must 
have been changed from a deep lake to a lacustrine plain by the 
accumulation in it of waste from the surrounding highlands, and 
for a time the streams that entered it may have flowed in mean- 
dering courses across the ancient alluvial surface ; the lacustrine 
and alluvial condition may have been temporarily revived at the 
time of the Jurassic elevation. It is perhaps as an inheritance 
from a course thus locally superimposed that we may come to 
regard the deflection of the river at Nanticoke from the axis of 
the syncline to a narrow shale valley on its northern side, before 
turning south again and leaving the basin altogether. But like 
certain other suggestions, this can only be regarded as an open 
hypothesis, to be tested by some better method of river analysis 
than we now possess ; like several of the other explanations here 
offered, it is presented more as a possibility to be discussed than 
as a conclusion to be accepted. 

I believe that it was during the earlier part of the great Jura- 
Cretaceous cycle of denudation that the Susquehanna thus be- 
came the master stream of the central district of the state. For 
the rest of the cycle, it was occupied in carrying off the waste 
and reducing the surface to a well finished baselevel lowland that 
characterized the end of Cretaceous time. From an active youth 
of conquest, the Susquehanna advanced into an old age of estab- 
lished boundaries ; and in later times, its area of drainage does 
not seem to have been greatly altered from that so long ago 
defined ; except perhaps in the districts drained by the West 
and North Branch headwaters. 

34. Homologies of the Susquehanna and Juniata. — Looking 
at the change from the Anthracite to the Susquehanna in a broad 
way, one may perceive that it is an effect of the same order as 
the peripheral diversion of the Broad Top drainage, illustrated in 
figures 22, 23 and 24 ; another example of a similar change is 
seen in the lateral diversion of the Juniata above Lewistown 
and its rectilinear continuation in Aughwick creek, from their 
original axial location when they formed the initial Broad Top 
outlet. They have departed from the axis of their syncline to 

238 National Geographic Magazine. 

the softer beds on its southern side ; FE of flg. 17 has been 
diverted to FD of fig. 1 8. 

All of these examples are truly only special cases of the one 
already described in which the Juniata left its original syncline 
for others to the south. The general case may be stated in a few 
words. A stream flowing along a syncline of hard beds (Carbon- 
iferous sandstones) developes side streams which breach the adja- 
cent anticlines and open lowlands in the underlying softer beds 
(Devonian and Silurian). On these lowlands, the headwaters of 
side streams from other synclines are encountered and a contest 
ensues as to possession of the drainage territory. 'The divides 
are pushed away from those headwaters whose lower course 
leads them over the fewest hard barriers ; this conquest goes on 
until the upper course of the initial main stream is diverted to a 
new and easier path than the one it chose in its youth in obedience 
to the first deformation of the region. Thus the Juniata now 
avoids the center and once deepest part of the old Broad Top 
lake, because in the general progress of erosion, lowlands on soft 
Devonian beds were opened all around the edge of the great 
mass of sandstones that held the lake ; the original drainage 
across the lake, from its western slopes to its outlet just south of 
the Jack's mountain anticline, has now taken an easier path along 
the Devonian beds to the west of the old lake basin, and is seen 
in the Little Juniata, flowing along the outer side of Terrace 
mountain and rounding the northern synclinal point where Terrace 
mountain joins Sideling hill. It then crosses Jack's mountain at 
a point where the hard Medina sandstones of the mountain were 
still buried at the time of the choice of this channel. In the 
same way, the drainage of the subordinate basin, through which 
the main lake discharged eastward, is now not along the axis of 
the Juniata-Catawissa syncline, but on the softer beds along one 
side of it ; and along the southern side because the easier escape 
that was provided for it lay on that side, namely, via the Tus- 
caroi'a and Wiconisco synclines, as already described. The much 
broader change from the Anthracite to the Susquehanna was only 
another form of the same process. Taking a transverse view of 
the whole system of central, folds, it is perceived that their axes 
descend into the Anthracite district from the east and rise west- 
ward therefrom ; it is as if the whole region had received a slight 
transverse folding, and the transverse axis of depression thus 
formed defined the initial course of the first master stream. 

The Rivers and Yalleys of Pennsylvania. 289 

But this master stream deserted its original course on the trans- 
verse axis of depression because a lateral course across lowlands 
on softer beds was opened by its side streams ; and in the contest 
on these lowlands with an external stream, the Susquehanna, the 
upper portion of the Anthracite was diverted from the hard rocks 
that had appeared on the transverse axis. The distance of 
diversion from the axial to the lateral course in this case was 
great because of the gentle quality of the transverse folding ; or, 
better said, because of the gentle dips of the axes of the longi- 
tudinal folds. This appearance of systematic re-arrangement in 
the several riVer courses where none was expected is to my mind 
a strong argument in favor of the originally consequent location 
of the rivers and their later mutual adjustment. It may perhaps 
be conceived that antecedent streams might imitate one another 
roughly in the attitude that they prophetically chose with regard 
to folds subsequently formed, but no reason has been suggested 
for the imitation being carried to so remarkable and definite a 
degree as that here outlined. 

35. Superimposition of the Susquehanna on ttoo synclinal 
ridges. — There is however one apparentlj'" venturesome postulate 
that may have been already noted as such by the reader ; unless 
it can be reasonably accounted for and shown to be a natural 
result of the long sequence of changes here considered, it will 
seriously militate against the validity of the whole argument. 
The present course of the middle Susquehanna leads it through 
the apical curves of two Pocono synclinal ridges, which were 
disregarded in the statement given above. It was then assumed 
that the embryonic Susquehanna gained possession of the Siluro- 
Devonian lowland drainage by gnawing out a course to the west 
of these synclinal points ; for it is not to be thought of that any 
conquest of the headwaters of the Anthracite river could have 
been made by the Susquehanna if it had had to gnaw out the 
existing four traverses of the Pocono sandstones before securing 
the drainage of the lowlands above them. The backward pro- 
gress of the Susquehanna could not in that case have been neai'ly 
fast enough to i-each the Anthracite before the latter had sunk 
its channel to a safe depth. It is therefore important to justify 
the assumption as to the more westerly location of the embryonic 
Susquehanna ; and afterwards, to explain how it should have 
since then been transferred to its present course. A short cut 
through all this round-about method is open to those who adopt 

i^40 National Geographic Magazine. 

in the beginning the theory that the Susquehanna was an antece- 
dent river ; but as I have said at the outset of this inquiry, it 
seems to me that such a method is not freer from assumption, 
even though shorter than the one here adopted; and it has the 
demerit of not considering all the curious details that follow the 
examination of consequent and adjusted courses. 

The sufficient reason for the assumption that the embryonic 
Susquehanna lay farther west than the present one in the neigh- 
borhood of the Pocono synclinals is simply that — in the absence 
of any antecedent stream — it must have lain there. The whole 
explanation of the development of the Siluro-Devonian lowlands 
between the Pocono and Medina ridges depends simply on their 
being weathered out where the rocks are weak enough to waste 
faster than the enclosing harder ridges through which the streams 
escape. In this process, the streams exercise no control whatever 
over the direction in which their headwaters shall grow ; they 
leave this entirel}" to the structure of the district that they drain. 
It thus appears that, under the postulate as to the initial location 
of the Susquehanna as one of the many streams descending the 
great slope of the Kittatinny (Cumberland) highland into the 
Swatai-a syncline, its course being reversed from northward to 
southward by the Newark depression, we are required to suppose 
that its headwater (northward) growth at the time of the Jurassic 
elevation must have been on the Siluro-Devonian beds, so as to 
avoid the harder rocks on either side. Many streams competed 
for the distinction of becoming the master, and that one gained 
its ambition whose initial location gave it the best subsequent 
opportunity. It remains then to consider the means by which 
the course of the conquering Susquehanna may have been subse- 
quently changed from the lowlands on to the two Pocono synclines 
that it now traverses. Some departure from its early location 
may have been due to eastward planation in its advanced age, 
when it had large volume and gentle slope and was therefore 
swinging and cutting latei'ally in its lower course. This may 
have had a share in the result, but there is another process that 
seems to me moi'e eifective. 

In the latter part of the Jura-Cretaceous cycle, the whole 
country hereabout suffered a moderate depression, by which the 
Atlantic transgressed many miles inland from its former shore- 
line, across the lowlands of erosion that had been developed on 
the litoral belt. Such a depression must have had a distinct effect 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 241 

on the lower courses of the larger rivers, which having already- 
cut their channels down close to baselevel and opened their 
valleys wide on the softer rocks, were then " estuaried," or at 
least so far checked as to build wide flood-plains over their lower 
stretches. Indeed, the flood-plains may have been begun at an 
earlier date, and have been confirmed and extended in the later 
time of depression. Is it possible that in the latest stage of this 
process, the almost baselevelled remnants of Blue mountain and 
the Pocono ridges could have been buried under the flood-plain 
in the neighborhood of the river ? 

If this be admitted, it is then natural for the river to depart 
from the line of its buried channel and cross the buried ridges on 
which it might settle down as a superimposed river in the next 
cycle of elevation. It is diflicult to decide such general questions 
as these ; and it may be diflicult for the reader to gain much 
confidence in the eflicacy of the processes suggested ; but there 
are certain features in the side streams of the Susquehanna that 
lend some color of probability to the explanation as offered. 

Admit, for the moment, that the aged Susquehanna, in the later 
part of the Jura-Cretaceous cycle, did change its channel some- 
what by cutting to one side, or by planation, as it is called. 
Admit, also, that in the natural progress of its growth it had 
built a broad flood plain over the Siluro-Devonian lowlands, and 
that the depth of this deposit was increased by the formation of 
an estuarine delta upon it when the country sank at the time of 
the mid-Cretaceous transgression of the sea. It is manifest that 
one of the consequences of all this might be the peculiar course 
of the river that is to be explained, namely, its superimposition 
on the two Pocono synclinal ridges in the next cycle of its 
history, after the Tertiary elevation had given it opportunity to 
re-discover them. It remains to inquire what other consequences 
should follow from the same conditions, and from these to devise 
tests of the hypothesis. 

36. Evidence of superitnposition in the Stisquehanna tributa- 
ries. — One of the peculiarities of flood-plained rivers is that the 
lateral streams shift their points of union with the main stream 
farther and farther down the valley, as Lombardini has shown in 
the case of the Po. If the Susquehanna were heavily flood- 
plained at the close of the Jura-Cretaceous cycle, some of its 
tributaries should manifest signs of this kind of deflection from 
their structural courses along the strike of the rocks. Side 

242 National Geograjptiic Magazine. 

streams that once joined the main stream on the line of some of 
the softer northeast-southwest beds, leaving the stronger beds as 
faint hills on either side, must have forgotten such control after 
it was baselevelled and buried ; as the flood plain grew, they 
properly took more and more distinctly downward deflected 
courses, and these deflections should be maintained in subsequent 
cycles as superimposed courses independent of structural guid- 
ance. Such I believe to be the fact. The downstream deflection 
is so distinctly a peculiarity of a number of tributaries that join 
the Susquehanna on the west side (see figure 1) that it cannot be 
ascribed to accident, but must be referred to some systematic 
cause. Examples of deflection are found in Peon's creek. Middle 
creek and North Mahantango creek in Snyder county ; West 
Mahantango between the latter and Juniata county ; and in the 
Juniata and Little Juniata rivers of Perry county. On the other 
side of the Susquehanna, the examples are not so distinct, but the 
following may be mentioned : Delaware and Warrior runs, Chil- 
lisquaque creek and Little Shamokin creek, all in Northumberland 
county. It may be remarked that it does not seem impossible 
that the reason for the more distinct deflection of the western 
streams may be that the Susquehanna is at present east of its old 
course, and hence towards the eastern margin of its flood plain, 
as, indeed its position on the Pocono synclinals implies. A reason 
for the final location of the superimposed river on the eastern side 
of the old flood plain may perhaps be found in the eastward tilting 
that is known to have accompanied the elevation of the Cretace- 
ous lowland. 

It follows from the foregoing that the present lower course of 
the Susquehanna must also be of superimposed origin; for the 
flood plain of the middle course must have extended down stream 
to its delta, and there have become confluent with the sheet of 
Cretaceous sediments that covered all the southeastern lowland, 
over which the sea had transgressed. McGee has already pointed 
out indications of superimposed stream courses in the south- 
eastern part of the State ;* but I am not sure that he would regard 
them as of the date here referred to. 

The theory of the location of the Susquehanna on the Pocono 
synclinal ridges therefore stands as follows. The general position 
of the river indicates that it has been located by some process of 
slow self-adjusting development and that it is not a persistent 

* Amer. Journ. Science, xxxv, 1888, 121, 134. 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 243 

antecedent river ; and yet there is no reason to think that it could 
have been brought into its present special position by any process 
of shifting divides. The processes that have been suggested to 
account for its special location, as departing slightly from a loca- 
tion due to slow adjustments following an ancient consequent 
origin, call for the occurrence of certain additional peculiarities 
in the courses of its tributary streams, entirely .unforeseen and 
unnoticed until this point in the inquiry is reached ; and on 
looking at the map to see if they occur, they are found with 
perfect distinctness. The hypothesis of superiraposition may 
therefore be regarded as having advanced beyond the stage of 
mere suggestion and as having gained some degree of confirmation 
from the congelations that it detects and explains. It only remains 
to ask if these correlations might have originated in any other 
way, and if the answer to this is in the negative, the case may be 
looked upon as having a fair measure of evidence in its favor. 
The remaining consideration may be taken up at once as the first 
point to be examined in the Tertiary cycle of development. 

37. Events of the Tertiary cycle. — The elevation given to the 
region by which Cretaceous basele veiling was terminated, and 
which I have called the early Tertiary elevation, offered oppor- 
tunity for the streams to deepen their channels once more. In 
doing so, certain adjustments of moderate amount occurred, 
which will be soon examined. As time went on, much denudation 
was effected, but no wide-spread baselevelling was reached, for 
the Cretaceous crest lines of the hard sandstone ridges still exist. 
The Tertiary cycle was an incomplete one. At its close, lowlands 
had been opened only on the weaker rocks between the hard beds. 
Is it not possible that the flood-plaining of the Susquehanna and 
the down-stream deflection of its branches took place in the 
closing stages of this cycle, instead of at the end of the previous 
cycle ? If so, the deflection might appear on the branches, but 
the main river would not be transferred to the Pocono ridges. 
This question may be safely answered in the negative ; for the 
Tertiary lowland is by no means well enough baselevelled to 
permit such an event. The beds of intermediate resistance, the 
Oriskany and certain Chemung sandstones, had not been worn 
down to baselevel at the close of the Tertiary cycle ; they had 
indeed lost much of the height that they possessed at the close of 
the previous cycle, but they had not been reduced as low as the 
softer beds on either side. They were only reduced to ridges of 

244 National Geographic Magazine. 

moderate and unequal height over the general plain of the Siluro- 
Devonian low country, without great strength of relief but quite 
strong enough to call for obedience from the streams along side 
of them. And yet near Selin's Grove, for example, in Snyder 
county, Penn's and Middle creeks depart most distinctly from 
the strike of the local rocks as they near the Susquehanna, and 
traverse certain well-marked ridges on their way to the main 
river. Such aberrant streams cannot be regarded as superimposed 
at the close of the incomplete Tertiary cycle ; they cannot be 
explained by any process of spontaneous adjustment yet described, 
nor can they be regarded as vastly ancient streams of antecedent 
courses ; I am therefore much tempted to consider them as of 
superimposed origin, inheriting their present courses from the 
flood-plain cover of the Susquehanna in the latest stage of the 
Jura-Cretaceous cycle. With this tentative conclusion in mind 
as to the final events of Jura-Cretaceous time, we may take up 
the more deliberate consideration of the work of the Tertiary 

The chief work of the Tertiary cycle was merely the opening 
of the valley lowlands ; little opportunity for river adjustment 
occurred except on a small scale. The most evident cases of 
adjustment have resulted in the change of water-gaps into wind- 
gaps, of which several examples can be given, the one best known 
being the Delaware wind-gap between the Lehigh and Delaware 
water-gaps in Blue mountain. The wind-gap marks the unfinished 
notch of some stream that once crossed the ridge here and whose 
headwaters have since then been diverted, probably to the Lehigh. 
The difficulty in the case is not at all how the stream that once 
flowed here was diverted, but how a stream that could be diverted 
in the Tertiary cycle could have escaped diversion at some earlier 
date. The relative rarity of wind-gaps indicates that nearly all of 
the initial lateral streams, which may have crossed the ridges at an 
early epoch in the history of the rivers, have been beheaded in some 
cycle earlier than the Tertiary and their gaps thereafter obliterated. 
Why the Delaware wind-gap stream should have endured into a 
later cycle does not at present appear. Other wind-gaps of appar- 
ently similar origin may be found in Blue mountain west of the 
Schuylkill and east of the Susquehanna. It is noteworthy that 
if any small streams still persevere in their gaps across a hard 
ridge, they are not very close to any large river-gap ; hence it is 
only at the very headwaters of Conedogwinet creek, in the 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 24:5 

northern part of Franklin county, that any water is still drawn 
from the back of Blue mountain. Again, these small stream gaps 
do not lie between large river-gaps and wind-gaps, but wind-gaps 
lie between the gaps of large rivers and those of small streams 
that are not yet diverted. Excellent illustration of this is found 
on the " Piedmont sheet " of the contoui-ed maps issued by the 
United States Geological Survey. The sheet covers part of 
Maryland and West Virginia, near where the North Branch of 
the Potomac comes out of the plateau and crosses New Creek 
mountain. Eleven miles south of the Potomac gap there is a 
deep wind-gap ; but further on, at twenty, twenty-five and 
twenty-nine miles from the river-gap are three fine water-gaps 
occupied by small streams. This example merely shows how 
many important points in the history of our rivers will be made 
clear when the country is properly portrayed on contoured maps. 

A few lines may be given to the general absence of gaps in 
Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania. When the initial consequent 
drainage was established, many streams must have been located 
on the northward slope of the great Cumberland highland, C, C, 
fig. 21 ; they must have gullied the slope to great depths and 
carried away great volumes of the weak Cambrian beds that lay 
deep within the hard outer casings of the mass. Minor adjust- 
ments served to diminish the number of these streams, but the 
more effective cause of their present rarity lay in the natural selec- 
tion of certain of them to become large streams ; the smaller ones 
were generally beheaded by these. The only examples of streams 
that still cross this ridge with their initial Permian direction of 
flow to the northwest are found in two southern branches of 
Tuscarora creek at the southern point of Juniata county ; and 
these survive because of their obscure location among the many 
Medina ridges of that district, where they were not easily acces- 
sible to capture by other streams, 

38. Tertiary adjustment of the Juniata on the Medina anti- 
clines. — The lower course of the Juniata presents several examples 
of adjustment referable to the last part of the Jura-Cretaceous 
cycle and to the Tertiary cycle. The explanation offered for the 
escape of this river from its initial syncline did not show any 
reason for its peculiar position with respect to the several Medina 
anticlines that it now borders, because at the time when it was 
led across country to the Wiconisco syncline, the hard Medina 
beds of these anticlines were not discovered. It is therefore 

246 National Geograjphic Magazi/txe. 

hardly to be thought that the location of the Juniata in the 
Narrows below Lewistown between Blue Ridge and Shade moun- 
tain and its avoidance of Tuscarora mountain could have been 
defined at that early date. But all these Medina anticlines rise 
more or less above the Cretaceous baselevel, and must have had 
some effect on the position taken by the river about the middle 
of that cycle when its channel sank upon them. Blue Ridge and 
Black Log anticlines rise highest. The first location of the cross- 
country stream that led the early Juniata away from its initial 
syncline probably traversed the Blue Ridge and Black Log anti- 
clines while they were yet buried ; but its channel-cutting was 
much retarded on encountering them, and some branch stream 
working around from the lower side of the obstructions may have 
diverted the river to an easier path. The only path of the kind 
is the narrow one between the overlapping anticlines of Blue 
Ridge and Shade mountains, and there the Juniata now flows. 
If another elevation should occur in the future, it might happen 
that the slow deepening of the channel in the hard Medina beds 
which now floor the Narrows would allow Middle creek of Snyder 
county to tap the Juniata at Lewistown and lead it by direct 
course past Middleburgh to the Susquehanna ; thus it would 
return to the path of its youth. 

The location of the Juniata at the end of Tuscarora mountain 
is again so definite that it can hardly be referred to a time when 
the mountain had not been revealed. The most likely position of 
the original cross-country stream which brought the Juniata into 
the Wiconisco syncline was somewhere on the line of the existing 
mountain, and assuming it to have been there, we must question 
how it has been displaced. The process seems to have been of 
the same kind as that just given ; the retardation of channel- 
cutting in the late Cretaceous cycle, when the Medina beds of 
Tuscarora anticline were discovered, allowed a branch from the 
lower part of the river to work around the end of the mountain 
and lead the river out that way. The occurrence of a shallow 
depression across the summit of the otherwise remarkably even 
crest of Tuscarora mountain suggests that this diversion was not 
finally accomplished until shortly after the Tertiary elevation of 
the country ; but at whatever date the adjustment occurred, it is 
natural that it should pass around the eastern end of the mountain 
and not ai'ound the western end, where the course would have 
been much longer, and therefore not successfully to be taken by 
a diverting stream. 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 247 

While the quality of these processes appears satisfactory, I am 
not satisfied as to the sufficiency of their quantity. If diversion 
was successfully practiced at the crossing of the Tuscarora anti- 
cline, why not also at the crossing of Jack's mountain anticline, 
on which the river still perseveres. It is difficult here to decide 
how much confidence may be placed in the explanation, because 
of its giving reason for the location of certain streams, and how 
much doubt must be cast upon it, because it seems impossible and 
is not of universal application. 

39. Migration of the Atlantic- Ohio divide. — There are certain 
shifted courses which cannot be definitely referred to any particu- 
lar cycle, and which may therefore be mentioned now. Among 
the greatest are those by which the divide between the Atlantic 
and the Ohio streams has been changed from its initial position on 
the great constructional Nittany highland and Bedford range. 
There was probably no significant change until after Newark 
depression, for the branches of the Anthracite river could not 
have begun to push the divide westward till after the eastward 
flow of the river was determined ; until then, there does not seem 
to have been any marked advantage possessed by the eastward 
streams over the westward. But with the eastward escape of 
the Anthracite, it probably found a shorter course to the sea and 
one that led it over alternately soft and hard rocks, instead of 
the longer course followed by the Ohio streams over continuous 
sandstones. The advantage given by the greater extent of soft 
beds is indicated by the great breadth of the existing valleys in 
the central district compared with the less breadth of those in the 
plateau to the west. Consider the effect of this advantage at the 
time of the Jurassic elevation. As the streams on the eastern 
slope of the Nittany divide had the shortest and steepest courses 
to the sea, they deepened their valleys faster than those on the 
west and acquired drainage area from them ; hence we find 
reason for the drainage of the entire Nittany and Bedford district 
by the Atlantic streams at present. Various branches of what are 
now the Alleghany and Monongahela originally rose on the 
western slope of the dividing range. These probably reached 
much farther east in pre-Permian time, but had their headwaters 
turned another way by the growth of the great anticlinal divide ; 
but the smaller anticlines of Laurel ridge and Negro mountain 
farther west do not seem to have been strong enough to form a 
divide, for the rivers still traverse them. Now as the headwaters 


248 National Oeographic Magazine. 

of the Juniata breached the eastern slope of the Nittany-Bedf ord 
range and pushed the divide westward, they at last gained pos- 
session of the Siluro-Devonian monocline on its western slope ; 
but beyond this it has not been possible for them yet to go. As 
the streams cut down deeper and encountered the Medina anti- 
cline near the core of the ridge, they sawed a passage through it ; 
the Cambrian beds were discovei-ed below and a valley was 
opened on them as the Medina cover wore away. The most 
important point about this is that we find in it an adequate 
explanation of the opposite location of water-gaps in pairs, such 
ais characterize the branches of the Juniata below Tyrone and 
again below Bedford. This opposite location has been held to 
indicate an antecedent origin of the river that passes through the 
gaps, while gaps formed by self-developed streams are not 
thought to present such correspondence (Hilber). Yet this 
special case of paired gaps in the opposite walls of a breached 
anticline is manifestly a direct sequence of the development of 
the Juniata headwaters. The settling down of the main Juniata 
on Jack's mountain anticline below Huntingdon is another case 
of the same kind, in which the relatively low anticlinal crest is as 
yet not widely breached ; the gaps below Bedford stand apart, as 
the crest is there higher, and hence wider opened ; and the gaps 
below Tyrone are separated by some ten or twelve miles. 

When the headwater streams captured the drainage of the 
Siluro-Devonian monocline on the western side of the ancient 
dividing anticline, they developed subsequent rectangular branches 
o-rowing like a well-trained grape vine. Most of this valley has 
been acquired by the west branch of the Susquehanna, probably 
because it traversed the Medina beds less often than the Juniata. 
For the same reason, it may be, the West Branch has captured a 
considerable area of plateau drainage that must have once 
belonged to the Ohio, while the Juniata has none of it ; but if so, 
the capture must have been before the Tertiary cycle, for since 
that time the ability of the West Branch and of the Juniata as 
regards such capture appears about alike. On the other hand, 
Castleman's river, a branch of the Monongahela, still retains the. 
drainage of a small bit of the Siluro-Devonian monocline, at the 
southern border of the State, where the Juniata headwaters had 
the least opportunity to capture it ; but the change here is 
probably only retarded, not prevented entirely ; the Juniata will 
some day push the divide even here back to the Alleghany Front, 
the frontal bluff of the plateau. 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 249 

40. Other examples of adjustments. — Other examples of small 
adjustments are found around the Wyoming basin, fig. 26, 

Fig. 26. 

Originally all these streams ran centripetally down the enclosing 
slopes, and in such locations they must have cut gullies and 
breaches in the hard Carboniferous beds and opened low back 
country on the weaker Devonians. Some of the existing streams 
still do so, and these are precisely the ones that are not easily 
reached by divertors. The Susquehanna in its course outside of 
the basin has sent out branches that have beheaded all the centri- 
petal streams within reach ; where the same river enters the 
basin, the centripetal streams have been shortened if not com- 
pletely beheaded. A branch of the Delaware has captured the 
heads of some of the streams near the eastern end of the basin. 
Elsewhere, the centripetal streams still exist of good length. 
The contrast between the persistence of some of the centripetal 
streams here and their peripheral diversion around Broad Top is 
a consequence of the difference of altitude of the old lake bottoms 
in the two cases. It is not to be doubted that we shall become 
acquainted with many examples of this kind as our intimacy with 
rivers increases. 

41. Events of the Quaternary cycle. — The brief quaternary 
cycle does not offer many examples of the kind that we have 
considered, and all that are found are of small dimensions. The 
only capturing stream that need be mentioned has lately been 
described as a " river pirate ;"* but its conquest is only a Schles- 

* Science, xiii, 1889, 108. 

250 National Geographic Magazine. 

wig-Holstein affair compared to the Goth- and Hun-like depreda- 
tions of the greater streams in earlier cycles. 

The character of the streams and their valleys as they now 
exist is strikingly dependent in many ways on the relation of the 
incipient quaternary cycle to the longer cycles of the past. No 
lakes occur, exception being made only of the relatively small 
ponds due to drift obstruction within the glaciated area. Water- 
falls are found only at the headwaters of small streams in the 
plateau district, exception again being made only for certain cases 
of larger streams that have been thrown from their pre-glacial 
courses by drift barriers, and which are now in a very immature 
state on their new lines of flow. The small valleys of this cycle 
are shallow and narrow, always of a size strictly proportional to 
the volume of the stream and the hardness of the enclosing rocks, 
exception being made only in the case of post-glacial gorges 
whose streams have been displaced from their pre-glacial channels. 
The terraces that are seen, especially on the streams that flow in 
or from the glaciated district, are merely a temporary and subor- 
dinate complication of the general development of the valleys. 
In the region that has been here considered, the streams have 
been seldom much displaced from their pre-glacial channels ; but 
in the northwestern part of the State, where the drift in the 
valleys seems to be heavier, more serious disturbance of pre- 
glacial courses is reported. The facts here referred to in regard 
to lakes, falls, gorges, terraces and displaced streams are to be 
found in the various volumes of the Second Geological Survey of 
the State ;* in regard to the terraces and the estuarine deflections 
of the Delaware and Susquehanna, reference should be made also 
to McGee's studies.f 

42. Doubtful cases. — It is hardly necessary to state that there 
are many facts for which no satisfactory explanation is fouijd 
under the theory of adjustments that we have been considering. 
Some will certainly include the location of the Susquehanna on 
the points of the Pocono synclines under this categoiy ; all must 
feel that such a location savors of an antecedent origin. The 
same is true of the examples of the alignment of water-gaps 
found on certain streams ; for example, the four gaps cut in the 

* Especially Carll, Reports Is, I4 ; White, Reports G5, Ge ; Lewis, 
Report Z. 

f Amer. Journ. Science, xxxv, 1888, 367, 448 ; Seventh Annual Rep. 
U. S. G. S., 1888, 545. 

The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 251 

two pairs of Pocono and Pottsville outcrops at the west end of 
the Wyoming syncline, and the three gaps where the Little 
Schuylkill crosses the coal basin at Tamaqua ; the opposite gaps 
in pairs at Tyrone and Bedford have already been sufficiently 
explained. The location of the upper North Branch of the Sus- 
quehanna is also unrelated to processes of adjustment as far as I 
can see them, and the great area of plateau drainage that is now 
possessed by the West Branch is certainly difficult to understand 
as the result of conquest. The two independent gaps in Tussey's 
mountain, maintained by the Juniata and its Frankstown branch 
below Tyrone are curious, especially in view of the apparent 
diversion of the branch to the main stream on the upper side of 
Warrior's ridge (Oriskauy), just east of Tussey's mountain. 

43. Complicated history of our actual rivers. — If this theory 
of the history of our rivers is correct, it follows that any one 
river as it now exists is of so complicated an origin that its 
development cannot become a matter of general study and must 
unhappily remain only a subject for special investigation for 
some time to come. It was my hope on beginning this essay to 
find some teachable sequence of facts that would serve to relieve 
the usual routine of statistical and descriptive geography, but 
this is not the result that has been attained. The history of the 
Susquehanna, the Juniata, or the Schuylkill, is too involved with 
complex changes, if not enshrouded in mystery, to become intel- 
ligible to any but advanced students ; only the simplest cases of 
river development can be introduced into the narrow limits of 
ordinary instruction. The single course of an ancient stream is 
now broken into several independent parts ; witness the disjoint- 
ing and diversion of the original Juniata, which, as I hav^e sup- 
posed, once extended from Broad Top lake to the Catawissa basin. 
Now the upper part of the stream, representing the early Broad 
Top outlet, is reduced to small volume in Aughwick creek ; the 
continuation of the stream to Lewistown is first set to one side of 
its original axial location and is then diverted to another syncline ; 
the beheaded portion now represented by Middle creek is diverted 
from its course to the Catawissa basin by the Susquehanna ; 
perhaps the Catawissa of the present day represents the reversed 
course of the lower Juniata where it joined the Anthracite. 
This unserviceably complicated statement is not much simplified 
if instead of beginning with an original stream and searching out 
its present disjointed parts, we ti-ace the composition of a single 

252 National Geograjphic Magazine. 

existing stream from its once independent parts. The Juniata of 
to-day consists of headwaters acquired from Ohio streams ; the 
lake in which the river once gathered its upper branches is now 
drained and the lake bottom has become a mountain toj) ; the 
streams flow around the margin of the lake, not across its basin ; 
a short course towards Lewistown nearly coincides with the 
original location of the stream, but to confound this with a precise 
agreement is to lose the true significance of river history ; the 
lower course is the product of diversion at least at two epochs 
and certainly in sevei'al places ; and where the river now joins 
the Susquehanna, it is suspected of having a superimposed course 
unlike any of the rest of the stream. This is too complicated, 
even if it should ever be demonstrated to be wholly true, to serve 
as material for ordinary study ; but as long as it has a savor of 
truth, and as long as we are ignorant of the whole histoiy of our 
rivers, through which alone their present features can be right- 
fully understood, we must continue to search after the natural 
processes of their development as carefully and thoroughly as 
the biologist searches for the links missing from his scheme of 

44. Provisonal Conclusion. — It is in view of these doubts and 
complications that I feel that the history of our rivers is not yet 
settled ; but yet the numerous accordances of actual and deduc- 
tive locations appear so definite and in some cases so remarkable 
that they cannot be neglected, as they must be if we should 
adhere to the antecedent origin of the river courses. 

The method adopted on an early page therefore seems to be 
justified. The provisional system of ancient consequent drainage, 
illustrated on fig. 21, does appear to be sufl!iciently related to the 
streams of to-day to warrant the belief that most of our rivers 
took their first courses between the primitive folds of our moun- 
tains, and that from that distant time to the present the changes 
they have suffered are due to their own interaction — to their own 
mutual adjustment more than to any other cause. The Susque- 
hanna, Schuylkill, Lehigh and Delaware are compound, composite 
and highly complex rivers, of repeated mature adjustment. The 
middle Susquehanna and its branches and the upper portions of 
the Schuylkill and Lehigh are descendants of original Permian 
rivers consequent on the constructional topography of that time ; 
Newark depression reversed the flow of some of the transverse 
streams, and the spontaneous changes or adjustments from imma- 

Tlie Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania. 253 

ture to mature courses in the several cycles of development are 
so numerous and extensive that, as Lowl truly says, the initial 
drainage has almost disappeared. The larger westward-flowing 
streams of the plateau are of earlier. Carboniferous birth, and 
have suffered little subsequent change beyond a loss of head- 
waters. The lower courses of the Atlantic rivers are younger, 
having been much shifted from their Permian or pre-Permian 
courses by Newark and Cretaceous superimposition, as well as by 
recent downward deformation of the surface in their existing estu- 
aries. ISTo recognizable remnant of rivers antecedent to the Per- 
mian deformation are found in the central part of the State ; and 
with the exception of parts of the upper Schuylkill and of the Sus- 
quehanna near Wilkes-Barre, there are no large survivors of Per- 
mian consequent streams in the ordinary meaning of the term 
" consequent." The shifting of courses in the progress of mature 
adjustment has had more to do with determining the actual loca- 
tion of our rivers and streams than any other process. 

Harvard College, June, 1889. 

254 National Geographic Magazine. 


By Cosmos Mindeleff. 

Op the many methods by which it has been sought to represent 
the relief of a country or district, only two have been at all widely 
used. These methods are, in the order of their development, by 
hachured and by contoured maps. Both have advantages and 
both have serious disadvantages. Without entering into the 
controversy that is even yet raging over the relative merits of 
the two systems, some slight notice of what each claims to 
accomplish is necessary. 

The representation of relief by hachures is a graphic system, 
and in the best examples we have is an attempt to show, upon a 
plane surface, the actual appearance of a given area under given 
conditions of lighting, — as in the Dufour map of the Alps. Of 
course certain details that would really disapjDear if the assumed 
conditions were actual ones, must be shown upon the map, — so 
that it is, after all, but a conventional representation. The very 
best examples are, for this and other reasons, unsatisfactory, and 
far more so is this the case in the vastly larger class of medium 
grade and poor work. 

The contour system represents i-elief by a series of lines, each 
of which is, at every point throughout its length, at a certain 
stated elevation above sea-level, or some other datum-plane ; in 
other words, each contour line represents what would be the 
water's edge, if the sea were to rise to that elevation. It pos- 
sesses the advantage of great clearness, but fails to a large degree 
in the representation of surface detail; moreover, one must have 
considerable knowledge of topography, in order to read the map 

To those who must give first place to the quantity of relief 
rather than the quality, as, for example, the geologist or the 
engineer, a contoured map is now considered essential. On the 
other hand, where quality of relief is the prime consideration 
and the quantity a secondary one, as, for example, for the use of 
the army, a hachured map is considered the best. The method 

* For specimens of representation of the same subject on different 
scales, in both the hachure and contour systems, see plate from " Enth- 
ofler's Topographical Atlas." 

Topographic Models. 255 

of hachures may be roughly characterized as a graphic system. 
with a conventional element, and the contour method as a con- 
ventional system with a graphic element, — for if the contour 
interval is small enough a sort of shading is produced which 
helps considerably the idea of relief. 

In addition to these two great systems, with which everyone is 
more or less familiar, there is another method of representing a 
country or district, — a method that succeeds where others fail, 
and which although by no means new, has not received the atten- 
tion it deserves: this is the representation of a country by a 
model in relief. Certain striking advantages of models over 
maps of all kinds are, indeed, so apparent that one almost loses 
sight of such slight disadvantages as can, of course, be urged 
against them. In the graphic representation of the surface they 
are far superior to the hachured map, and they have the further 
advantage of expressing the relative relief, which the hachured 
map fails to do, except in a very general way. They have also 
the advantage of showing actual shadows, exactly as they would 
be seen in a bird's-eye view of the district, instead of more or 
less conventional ones, and are, consequently, more easily com- 
prehended by the layman, without becoming any less valuable to 
the skilled topographer. In short, they combine all the graphic 
features of a hachured map with all the advantages of the best 
class of contoured jnaps, and in addition they show more of the 
surface detail, upon which so much of the character of the 
country depends and which is very inadequately expressed by 
hachures and almost completely ignored in a contoured map of 
large interval. The contours themselves can be made to appear 
upon the model very easily and without interfering with other 

The uses of models are many and various. Within the past 
few years their usefulness has been much extended, and, now 
that they are becoming better known, will probably receive a 
still further extension. To the geologist they are often of great 
value in working out the structure of complicated districts, for 
the reason that so many important structural relations can be 
presented to the eye at a single glance. Similarly, for the 
graphic presentation of results there is no better method, as the 
topography, the surface geology, and any number of sections 
can be shown together and seen in their proper relationship. To 
the engineer an accurate model is often of the greatest assistance 

256 National Geogra,phiG Magazine. 

in working out his problems, and it is simply invaluable to ex- 
plain the details of a plan to anyone who has little or no tech- 
nical training ; for, as has been stated, a model is easily compre- 
hended by anyone, while more or less technical knowledge is 
required for the proper understanding of even the best maps. 

I might go on cataloguing in detail the many uses to which 
models may be put, but shall now mention only one more — per- 
haps the most important of all — their use in the education of the 
young. No method has yet been devised that is capable of 
giving so clear and accurate a conception of the principles of 
physical geography as a series of well selected models; models 
have, indeed, already been used for this purpose, but unfor- 
tunately their great cost has prevented their general use in 
schools. Since, however, the stiidy of geography has been placed 
upon a new basis and a new life has been infused into it, many 
men have given their attention to the subject of models, and have 
experimented with a view to cheapen the cost of reproduction, 
which has hitherto prevented their wide distribution; and prob- 
ably this objection will soon be remedied. The ability to read a 
map correctly, — to obtain from a study of the map a clear con- 
ception of the cou.ntry represented, — is more uncommon than is 
usually supposed. Some of the recent methods of teaching 
geography are intended to cultivate this very faculty, but it is 
doubtful whether there is any better method than that which 
consists in the study of a series of good models in conjunction 
with a series of maps, all on the same scale and of the same 
areas. The value of a series of good models in teaching geology 
is so apparent that it need only be mentioned. It is often, for 
reasons stated above, far more valuable eveUj than field instruc- 

For the construction of a good relief map the first requisite is 
a good contoured map. To this should be added, when possible, 
a good hachured map, upon which the elevations of the principal 
points are stated, — if the interval in the contoured map is a large 
one, — and as much material in the way of photographs and 
sketches as it is possible to procure. The modeler should, more- 
over, have some personal acquaintance with the region to be 
represented, or, failing that, a general knowledge of topographic 
forms, and at least a clear conception of the general character of 
the country which he seeks to represent. This is very important, 
for it is here that many modelers fail: the mechanical portion of 

Topographic Models. '^bl 

the work any ordinarily intelligent person can do. A model may 
be as accurate as the map from which it is made, every contour 
may be placed exactly where it belongs, and yet the resulting 
model may be, — indeed, often is — " flat," expressionless, and un- 
satisfactory. Every topographer in drawing his map is compelled 
to generalize more or less, and it is fortunate for the map if this 
be done in the field instead of in the draughtsman's oflfice. But 
topographers difl[er among themselves: there may be, and often 
is, considerable difference in two maps of the same region made 
by diffei'ent men; in other words, the "personal equation" is a 
larger element in a map than is usually supposed. This being 
the case, there is something more required in a modeler than the 
mere transferring of the matter in the map, — giving it three 
dimensions instead of two: he must supply through his special 
knowledge of the region (or, failing that through his general 
knowledge) certain characteristics that do not appear upon the 
map, and undo, so far as it is necessary, certain generalizations of 
the topographer and draughtsman. This artistic or technical 
skill required correctly to represent the individuality of a given 
district is especially important in the modeler; it is more impor- 
tant, perhaps, in small-scale maps of large districts than in large- 
scale maps of small ones, — for in the latter the generalizing pro- 
cess has not been carried so far, and the smaller interval of the 
contour lines preserves much of the detail. 

The methods by which relief maps are made have always re- 
ceived more attention than would, at first sight, appear to be 
their proper proportion. It may be due, however, to the difficulty 
of applying any test to determine the accuracy of the finished 
model, and perhaps also to the general impression that any one 
can make a relief map, —and so he can, though of course there 
Avill be a wide difference in the value of the results. Some, 
indeed, have devoted their attention to methods exclusively, 
letting the result take care of itself, — and the models show it. 
There is no more reason why a modeler should tie himself down 
to one method of work, than that a water-colorist, or a chemist, 
or anyone engaged in technical work, should do so; though in 
some cases he might be required, as the chemist is, to show his 
methods as well as his results. 

One of the earliest methods, with any pretension to what we 
may term mechanical control, is that described by the Messrs, 
Harden in a paper on " The construction of maps in relief," read 

258 National Geographic Magazine. 

before the American Institute of Mining Engineers in 1887; 
The method was published in 1838. Upon a contoured map as a 
basis cross-section lines are drawn at small and regular intervals, 
and, if the topography be intricate, corresponding lines at right 
angles. The sections thus secured are transferred to thin strips of 
some suitable material, such as cardboard or metal, and cut down 
to the surface line, — the strips themselves thus forming the cross- 
sections. These cross-sections are mounted upon a suitable base- 
board, and the cavities or boxes are then filled up with some 
easily carved material, such as plaster or wax. The top is then 
carved down to the form of the country or district, — the neces- 
sary guidance being obtained by the upper edges of the strips 
that form the cross-sections. It will be readily seen that this 
method is a very crude and laborious one. It necessitates in the 
first place a good contoured map upon which to draw the sections, 
but sacrifices much of the advantage thus gained because only a 
number of points on each contour line are used, instead of the 
entire line. It is no better, although actually more laborious, 
than the later method of driving contour pins (whose height 
above a base-board may be accurately measured,) along the 
contour lines, and then filling in. A slight modification of the 
latter method can be used to advantage when no contoured map 
is available, and when the points whose elevation is known are 
not numerous enough to permit the construction of one. In this 
case the only control that can be secured is \)j means of a num- 
ber of pins driven into the base-board at those points whose 
elevation is known. The remainder of the map is then sketched 
in. This method is perhaps as satisfactory as any, when the 
material upon the map is scanty. Another method, however, 
growing out of the same scantiness of material, is in some cases 
to be preferred, especially for large models. The map is enlarged 
to the required size, and a ti'acing of it is mounted upon a frame. 
Another deep frame, just large enough to contain the mounted 
tracing, is made, and laid upon a suitable base-board upon which a 
copy of the map has been mounted. Upon this base-board the 
model is then commenced, in clay or wax. The low areas are 
modeled first, — horizontal control being obtained by pricking 
through the mo.unted tracing of the map with a needle point, 
and vertical control by measuring down from a straight edge 
sliding on the top of the deep frame. This system is rather 
crude, and onl}' useful where the material upon the map is very 
scanty, but it gives excellent control. 

Topograjphio Models. 259 

A method used by Mr. F. H. King in the preparation of his 
large map of the United States is described by him in a letter to 
Messrs. Harden, and published by them in the place mentioned. 
A solid block of plaster is used, — the contoured map being trans- 
ferred to it — and the plaster is carved down to produce a series 
of steps like those made by building up the contours. The 
shoulders are then carved down to produce a continuous surface. 
This method is one of the best of those that requii-e carving 
instead of modeling. 

Many other methods of producing relief maps might be men- 
tioned, but, as most of them have been used only to make special 
models, they need not be described. The method that has been 
more used than any other still remains to be described. It is that 
which the writer has used almost exclusively, and consists in 
building up the model and modeling the detail, instead of carv- 
ing it. It is a maxim of the modeler that the subject should be 
built up as far as possible, should be produced by adding bits of 
clay or wax, or other material, and not by carving away what is 
already on, — by addition and not by subtraction. This may be 
illustrated by a reference to the methods of the sculptor. The 
bust, or figure, or whatever the subject may be, is first modeled 
in clay or wax; from this model a plaster mould is made, and 
from this mould a plaster cast is taken. This cast is called the 
original, and the finished production, whether in marble, bronze, 
or any other hard substance, is simply a copy of this original. 
No one ever attempts to produce the finished bust or figure 
directly from the object itself. Even where the artist has for 
a guide a death mask, the procedure does not change. The bust 
is first made in clay, and this clay model, as a rule, contains all 
the detail which subsequently appears in the finished bust. I]t 
seems strange, therefore, that the relief map maker should use a 
method which the sculptor, with infinitely more skill and judg- 
ment, is afraid to use; and this on subjects that do not differ as 
much as might be imagined. 

The contour interval to be used depends on the use to which 
the model is to be put. It is not always necessary 'to carry into 
the model all the contour lines upon the map: I may go further 
and say, that it is not always desirable to do so. The number to 
be used depends to some extent on the skill of the modeler. As 
already stated, the contours are only a means of control, and one 
modeler requires more than another. To build into a model every 

260 National Geographic Magazine. 

contour in a contoured map of ten foot intei'val is a very labori- 
ous proceeding, and not worth the time it takes, as in nine out of 
ten maps of such interval only the fifty-foot or the one hundred- 
foot curves are definitely fixed, the intermediate lines being 
merely filled in. This filling in can be done as well, or better, by 
the modeler. 

The question as to the proper amount of exaggeration to be 
given the vertical scale, as compared with the horizontal, is the 
question about which has raged most of the controversy con- 
nected with relief map making. This controversy has been 
rather bitter ; some of the opponents of vertical exaggeration 
going to the length of saying that no exaggeration is necessary, 
and that " he that will distort or exaggerate the scale of anything 
will lie." On the other hand the great majority of those who 
have made relief ma]3S insist upon the necessity of more or less 
exaggeration of the vertical scale — generally more than seems to 
me necessary, however. 

An increase of angle of slope accompanies all vertical exagger- 
ation, and this is apparent even in models in which the vertical 
element is only very slightly exaggerated. It produces a false 
effect by diminishing the proportionate width of the valleys, and 
by making the country seem much more rugged and mountainous 
than it really is. A secondary effect is to make the region rep- 
resented look very small — all idea of the extent of the country 
being lost. This can be illustrated better than described. The 
King model of the United States is an example of one extreme ; 
it is worthy of note that no examples of the other extreme — too 
little exaggeration — are known. 

In small-scale models of large districts some exaggeration of 
the vertical scale is necessary in order to make the relief appar- 
ent, but the amount of this exaggeration is often increased much 
beyond what is essential. The proportion of scales must depend 
to a large extent on the character of the country represented, and 
on the purposes for which the model is made. It has been sug- 
gested by a writer, quoted by the Messrs. Harden, that the 
following exaggeration would afford a pleasing relief : " For a 
map, scale 6 inches to I mile : if mountainous, 1:3; if only hilly, 
1:2; if gently undulating, 2:3. For smaller scales, except for 
very rugged tracts, the exaggeration should be correspondingly 
increased. For a tract consisting wholly of mountains no exag- 
geration is necessary." I know of no country of such a charac- 

Topog7'aphic Models. 261 

ter that its relief, in all its detail, cannot be shown upon a scale 
of 6 inches to 1 mile without any exaggeration at all. 

It seems to me that the absolute and not the relative amount 
of relief is the desideratum, and I have always used this as my 
guiding principle. For small scale models I have found half an 
inch of relief ample. It may be worth while to state that in a 
model of the United States made for the Messrs. Butler, of Phil- 
adelphia, the horizontal scale was 77 miles to 1 inch, the vertical 
scale 40,000 feet to 1 inch, and the proportion of scales as 1 to 10. 
This proportion could have been brought down as low as 1 : 6 
with advantage. One-fortieth of an inch to a thousand feet 
seems a very small vertical scale, but it sufficed to show all the 
important features of the relief. It should be stated, moreover, 
that the model in question was very hurriedly made — in fact, was 
hardly more than a sketch-model — and that more care and more 
minute work would have brought out many details that do not 
now appear. This amount of care was not considered necessary 
in this instance, as the model was made to be photographed and 
published as a photo-engraving, and was to suffer an enormous 
reduction — coming down to five by seven inches.* 

It has been frequently urged by the advocates of large exag- 
geration that the details of a country cannot be shown unless the 
vertical scale is exaggerated ; that hills 200, 300, or even 500 
feet high — depending of course upon the scale — flatten out or dis- 
appear entirely. This seems plausible, but the advantanges of 
great exaggeration are more apparent than real. Its effect upon 
the model has already been mentioned ; it should be added that, 
with the proper amount of care in finishing the model, exceed- 
ingly small relief can be so brought out as to be readily seen. 
With ordinary care, one-fortieth of an inch can be easily shown, 
and with great care and skill certainly one-eightieth and probably 
one-hundredth of an inch. Another plausible argument that 
has been advanced in favor of vertical exaggeration as a princi- 
ple, is well stated by Mr. A. E. Lehman, of the Pennsylvania 
Geological Survey, in a paper on " Topographical Models," read 
before the American Institute of Mining Engineers in 1885. "A 
perfectly natural expression is of course desired ; and to cause 
this the features of the topography should be distorted and exag- 
gerated in vertical scale just enough to produce the same effect 
on the beholder or student of the district of country exhibited 

*See plate from " Butler's Complete Geography." 

262 National Geogi^ajphic Magazine. 

as his idea of it would be if he were on the real ground itself. 
Care should be taken, however, not to make the scales so dispro- 
portionate as to do violence to mental impressions. Often, in- 
deed, prominent or important features, when they will bear it, 
may be still more effectively shown by additional exaggeration 
in the vertical scale." The fallacy of this argument is obvious. 
It assumes that the object of a model is to show the country as 
it appears to one passing through it, and not as it really is — and 
there is often a very wide difference between the two. The im- 
pression derived from passing through a country is, if I may use 
the term, a very large-scale impression, as any one who has tried 
it can certify ; it is certainly a mistake to attempt to reproduce 
this impression in a small-scale model, with the help of vertical 
exaggeration. Even if the principle were a good one, its applica- 
tion would be very limited. It could only be used in large-scale 
models ; to apply it to a model of a large area — the United 
States, for example — is obviously absurd. 

The method referred to as being now generally in use may be 
briefly described as follows : requisites, a good contoured map ; 
a hachured map in addition, if possible ; a clear conception on 
the part of the modeler of the country to be represented ; and a 
fair amount of skill. Materials : a base-board of wood or other 
suitable material ; card-board or wood of the thickness required 
by the contour interval and the scale ; and modeling wax or clay. 
Procedure : reproduce the contours in the wood or other mate- 
rial ; mount these upon the base-board in their proper relation- 
ship ; then fill in the intervening spaces, and the space above the 
topmost contour, with the modeling material. 

In a series of models of the Grand Divisions of the earth, made 
about a year and a half ago, the contours of card-board were 
made as follows : the map was photographed up to the required 
scale, and as many prints were made as there were contour inter- 
vals to be represented — in a model of the United States of 1,000 
feet contour interval there were fourteen prints. Thirteen of 
these were mounted upon card-board of the exact thickness re- 
quired by the vertical scale, and one upon the base-board. All 
large paper companies use a micrometer gauge, and card-board 
can easily be obtained of the exact thickness required — even to 
less than the thousandth part of an inch. The lowest contour 
was then sawed out upon a scroll saw, and placed upon the cor- 
responding line of the map mounted upon the base-board. This 

TopograjpTiic Models. 263 

process was repeated with each of the succeeding contours until 
all were placed and glued into their proper positions. At this 
stage the model presents the relief in a series of steps, each step 
representing a rise corresponding to the contour interval. The 
disadvantages of the method lie in the fact that unless the great- 
est care is exercised in making the photographic prints there will 
be considerable distortion, owing to the stretching of the paper 
in different directions, and consequently much trouble in fitting 
the contours. If care be exercised in having*the grain of the 
paper run in the same direction in all the prints, trouble in fitting 
the contours will be much reduced, but the distortion in one 
direction will remain. In our experience this distortion amounts 
to about two per cent. ; in other words, a model that should be 
fifty inches long will in reality be fifty-one inches ; but, as this 
error is distributed over the whole fifty inches, it is not too great 
for an ordinary model. If greater accuracy be required, it can 
be secured by transferring the contours to the card-board by 
means of tracing or transfer paper. The great advantage of the 
photographic method lies in the fact that when the model has 
been built up, with all the contours in position, it presents a copy 
of the map itself, with all the details, drainage, etc., in position, 
instead of blank intervals between the contours. . Such details 
and drainage are a great help in the subsequent modeling. 

The next step in the process is to fill in with clay or wax the 
intervals between the contours. I have always found wax more 
convenient than clay for this purpose as, unless the surface coat- 
ing is a thick one, the clay is diflicult to keep moist. To obviate 
this difiiculty, some modelers have used clay mixed with glycerine 
instead of water ; this, of course, does not become dry, but the 
material is, at its best, unsatisfactory. The filling-in process is 
the most important one in relief map making, for it is here that 
the modeler must show his knowledge of, and feeling for, topo- 
graphic forms. Some models seem to have been constructed 
with the idea that when the contours have been accurately placed 
the work of the modeller is practically done. This is a great 
mistake. The card-board contours are only a means of control, 
occupying somewhat the same relation to the relief map that a 
core or base of bricks, or a frame of wood, does to other con- 
structions as, for example, an architectural ornament or a bust. 
It is sometimes necessary to cut away the contour card ; for, as 
has been already explained, a map is more or less generalized, and 


264 National Geographic Magazine. 

a contour is frequently carried across a ravine, instead of follow- 
ing it up, as it "wonld do if the map were on a larger scale. Such 
generalizing is of course perfectly proper in a map, but, with the 
same scale, we expect more detail in a model. The modeler must 
have judgment enough and skill enough to read between the 
lines, and to undo the generalizing of the topographer and 
draughtsman, thus supplying the material omitted from the map. 
This can be done without materially affecting the accuracy of 
the model, considered even as a copy of the contoured map. 

The contours of card board or other material are, let me 
repeat, only a means of control. The perfect modeler — a variety, 
by the way, yet to be evolved — would be able to make an accu- 
rate relief map without them, in the same way that other subjects 
are made ; as, for example, a flower panel, an architectural orna- 
ment, or any other subject in low relief, where the object sought 
is artistic effect and great accuracy is not a desideratum. It is 
the converse of this idea that has produced the numerous models 
that one sees ; accurate enough, perhaps, but wholly expression- 
less and absolutely without feeling. This is the great fault of 
nearly all models made by building up the contours in wood and 
then carving down the shoulders. It is then necessary to sand- 
paper them, and what little character they might otherwise have 
had is completely obliterated by the sand-paper. Such models 
almost invariably look wooden. Let the modeler, then, have a clear 
conception of his subject and not depend wholly on the contours, 
and let him work out that conception in his model, " controlled " 
and helped by the contours, but not bound by them ; the result- 
ing model will thus be far more satisfactory and a far better rep- 
resentation of his subject, in other words, it will be more life-like — 
more nearly true to nature. 

The model, provided it be not of clay, is sometimes used in the 
state in which it is left when finished. It is much more common, 
however, to make a plaster mould, and from this a plaster cast. 
For this purpose a moulder is usually called in ; but moulders as 
a rule are ignorant men, accustomed to one line of work only, and 
the result is not always satisfactory. It is much better for the 
modeler himself to do this work, though to obtain good results 
from plaster it is necessary to know the material thoroughly, and 
this knowledge comes only from experience. The mould is gen- 
erally made quite heavy, in order to stand the 'subsequent hard 
treatment that it may receive, and should be retouched and thor- 

Topographic Models. 265 

oughly dried before being prepared for the cast. The method 
used by some modelers of placing a frame about the model and 
pouring in the plaster, filling the frame to the top, is a crude and 
very wasteful one and not at all to be recommended. In a model 
of large size — say seven or eight feet square — it would require a 
derrick to move the mould. It is wholly unnecessary, as, with a 
small amount of care, a good mould can be made not more than 
an inch thick, or, at most, an inch and a half. The drying of the 
mould before use can sometimes be dispensed with, but is always 

Nearly all American moulders (as distinguished from French 
and Italian ones) varnish the mould, and thus lose some of the 
finest detail and sharpness. This is unnecessary. The mould can 
be easily prepared with a solution of soap so as to leave nothing 
on the surface but a very thin coating of oil, which is taken up 
and replaced by the plaster of the cast. Of course, if the model 
has been sand-papered, no fine work in moulding or casting is 
necessary, as there is nothing to save. If the subject is a very 
intricate one, with " undercuts " (as they are called), it is custom- 
ary to make a waste mould ; as this is very seldom necessary in 
relief map work, however, the process need not be described. 

To make the cast it is only necessary to repeat the processes 
used in making the mould. With great care and some skill a 
cast can be produced but little inferior in point of sharpness and 
detail to the original model. It is customary to make the cast 
very thick, and, consequently, very heavy ; this is unnecessary. 
In our work we seldom make a cast thicker than one inch, and 
yet are never troubled with changes in the model after it is 
finished. Even in a very large cast (now in the National Mu- 
seum), weighing nearly 1,500 pounds and presenting a surface 
of over 160 square feet, the average thickness is less than one 
inch, although it required over five barrels of plaster to make it. 
The cast, after being thoroughly dried, should be finished — all its 
imperfections being carefully repaired. The surface, however, 
should be touched as little as possible, as the slight roughness of 
surface that comes from the original model, through the mould, 
is removed by any tooling. This roughness adds much to the 
effect of the model ; in fact, where the scale is large enough, it is 
sometimes desirable to emphasize it. 

The proper way to paint a model is a matter that must rest 
principally upon the judgment of the modeler, depending to some 

266 National Geographic Magazine. 

extent, also, on the use to which the model is to be put. The 
plain cast is sometimes used, drainage, lettering, etc., being put 
directly upon it. This has the advantage of preserving all the 
detail that comes from the mould, but it has also the disadvan- 
tage of a surface easily soiled and impossible to clean. If the 
model is to be photographed, the surface should be nearly white — 
in our practice we use a small amount of yellow with the white. 
This yellow is hardly appreciable by the eye, but its effect upon 
the photographic negative is quite marked. Yellow becomes 
grey in a photograph, and, in a photograph of a model colored as 
described, a grey tint is given to the whole surface. The high 
lights are not pure white, and there is no harsh contrast between 
light and shade. There is another point of great importance in 
photographing models : the surface should have a dead finish — 
that is, should have no gloss, or, at most, should have only what 
is known among painters as an egg-shell gloss. It is almost 
impossible satisfactorily to photograph a model that has a shiny 
surface. Any portion of a model that it is desired to separate 
from the rest should be painted a different color — the water, for 
example, should be painted a light blue ; not a blue composed of 
indigo, however, or any of the grey blues, as these produce in 
the photograph a dead grey, and are not pleasant to the eye. 
The most satisfactory color that we have used is a mixture of 
cobalt — the purest of the blues — with Antwerp blue — which is 
quite green — and white. This gives a color that is pleasant to 
the eye, has the retreating quality to perfection, and photographs 

Models intended for exhibition as such should be painted real- 
istically. There is room here for an immense improvement in 
the usual practice, which is to paint the model either in some 
conventional scheme of light and shade, or else to put a single flat 
tint upon it. If the model is to be colored conventionally it is, 
in my opinion, much better to use a flat tint, light in tone, and 
with a dead surface. The use of a variety of colors upon the 
face of a model interferes materially with the relief, especially 
if the relief is finely modeled. For this reason models colored to 
indicate geologic formations should always be accompanied by 
duplicates representing topography only, colored realistically, if 
possible, and without lettering. Well-defined lines other than 
those pertaining to the model itself, such, for example, as those 
used to define the boundaries of geologic formations, should not 

Topographic Models. 267 

be allowed upon a model when it is desired to bring out all the 
relief. The lettering on such models should be kept down as 
small as possible, or wholly dispensed with. The latter is much 
the better method. 

The cheap reproduction of models is the most important 
problem connected with the art, and the one that is attracting 
most attention among those engaged in it ; as, until models can 
be reproduced cheaply, they will never have any wide distribu-' 
tion and there will be far less incentive to the modeler. Various 
materials have been suggested and experimented on, but nine- 
tenths of the models that are made to-day are made of plaster of 
Paris. Although this material was the first to be used for this 
purpose, it has not yet been superseded. A plaster cast is heavy, 
expensive and easily injured ; but plaster gives an accurate copy 
of the original, retains permanently the form given it, and is 
easily finished and repaired. The weight is an obstacle that can 
be easily overcome. By the incorporation in the plaster of fine 
tow, or of bagging or netting of various kinds, the cast can be 
made very light and at the same time strong, but the expense is 
increased rather than diminished by this method. Models made 
in this way, however, have the advantage that when broken the 
pieces do not fall out, they are, however, fully as liable to surface 
injury as the other kind. The large cast in the National Museum, 
before referred to, was made in this way. It weighed nearly 
2,000 pounds when boxed — not an easy thing to handle — but it 
stood shipment to New Orleans and back without suffering any 
material injury. This would hardly have been possible had the 
cast been made from plaster alone. 

Paper seems, at first sight, to be the material best adapted for 
the reproduction of models ; but no one has succeeded well 
enough with it to bring it into use. Like nearly all those who 
have given this subject attention, I have experimented with 
paper, but the only positive result has been a loss of a large part 
of the confidence that I once had in the suitability of the material. 
Paper has been used extensively for large scale models of pueblos, 
ruins, etc., but I have never obtained a satisfactory result with 
subjects in low relief and fine detail. A paper cast may look well 
when first made, but it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, 
and contracts and expands with the weather. The contraction is 
apt to flatten out the model and the expansion to make it buckle up. 

Casts of models have been made in iron ; but this, while suitable 

268 National Geographic Magazine. 

perhaps for models of mounds and subjects of like character, 
would hardly be applicable to small scale models with fine detail ; 
such casts require too much surface finishing. The material 
known as Lincrusta-Walton seems to me to be the ideal material 
for this purpose. It is tougher than rubber, will take the finest 
detail, and its surface can be treated in any way desired. Unfor- 
tunately the manufacture of models in this material would require 
expensive machinery, and is outside the scope of a modeling 
room. Should it ever become commercially advantageous, how- 
ever, casts of a model of ordinary size, in every way equal to the 
original, can be turned out in this material at a very small cost. 

It remains to speak of the reproduction of models by process- 
engravings — a method that will probably receive much more 
attention in the future than it has in the past. It is perhaps 
along this line that the cheap reproduction of models will develop ; 
but the subject is too large a one to be adequately treated here, 
and must be postponed until some future occasion. 

Scale, 1 inch - 4 miles. 


Contour - 
200 ft. 


500 ft. 

Scale, 1 inch- 

Hachure . 

Contour- intervcd: 40 ft. 

Contour- interval: 80 ft. 

Contour- interval: 120 ft. 



From Supplement to Enthoffer's Topographical Atlas 
by permis sion of Mr. Enthoffer. 


CoPYKiGHT, 1888, Br E. H. Butler & Co. 

Printed by permission. 



October 5, 1888, Mnth Meeting/. 

A papei' was read entitled, " Topographic Models," by Mr, 
Cosmos Mindeleff . Published in the " National Geographic Mag- 
azine," Vol. I, No. 3. 

October 19, 1888, Te?ith Meeting. 
The attendance being very small, no paper was read. 

November 2, 1888, Eleventh Meethig. 

The paper of the evening was entitled, " Surveys, their Kinds 
and Purposes," by Mr. Marcus Baker. The paper was discussed 
by Messrs. Ogden, Goodfellow, Gannett and Baker. Published 
in "Science," Vol. XII, No. 304. 

November 16, 1888, Twelfth Meeting. 

A paper was read by Mr. Henry Gannett, giving certain 
"Physical Statistics Relating to Massachusetts," derived from 
the map of that State recently prepared by the United States 
Geological Survey. A discussion followed which was partici- 
pated in by Messrs. Baker, Kenaston, Fernow, Weed, and the 
author. A second paper entitled, " Something about Tornadoes," 
was read by Lieut. J. P. Finley, U. S. Signal Corps. 

November 30, 1888, Thirteenth Meeting. 

The annual reports of vice-Presidents Herbert G. Ogden and 
Gen. A. W. Greely were delivered. Published in the " National 
Geographic Magazine," Vol. I, No. 2. 

December 20, 1888, Fourteenth Meeting. 

Held in the Law Lecture Room of the Columbian University. 
The President delivered his Annual Address, entitled, "Africa." 
Published in the "National Geographic Magazine," Vol. I, No. 2. 

270 National Geographic Magazine. 

December 29,, 1888, Fifteenth Meeting. 

The Society met in the Society Hall of the Cosmos Club, 
President Hubbard in the chair. Owing to the absence from 
the city of the Secretaries, Mr, O. H. Tittmann was requested to 
act as Secretary of the meeting. The minutes of the first and 
fourteenth meetings were read and approved. The report of the 
Secretaries was read, in their absence, by the temporary Secre- 
retary, and was approved. The Treasurer's report, showing a 
balance on hand of $626.70, was read and approved, as was also 
that of the auditing committee. 

The President announced that vacancies caused by the resigna- 
tion of two of the managers, Messrs. W. D. Johnson and Henry 
Mitchell, had been filled by the Board on the 1 5th of November, 
by the election of Messrs. O. H. Tittmann and C. A. Kenaston ; 
and that a vacancy caused by the resignation of Vice-Pi-esident 
John R. Bartlett, had been filled by the election of Lieut. George 
L. Dyer, on November 30th. 

The Society then proceeded to the election of ofiicers, with fol- 
lowing result : 

President— GcKKDis^Vi G. Hubbard. 

Vice-Presidents— Hexceert G. Ogden, [land] ; George L. Dyer, [sea] ; 
A. W. Greely, [air]; C. Hart Merriam, [life]; A. H. Thompson, [art]; 

Treasurer— Charles J. Bell. 

Recording Secretary— Hk^uy Gannett. 

Corresponding Secretary— G'E.orge Kennan. 

Maria^ers— Cleveland Abbe, Marcus Baker, Rogers Birnie, Jr., 
G. Browne Goode, W. B. Powell, J. C Welling, C. A. Kenaston, 
O. H. Tittmann. 

January/ 11, 1889, Sixteenth Meeting. 

The paper of the evening was entitled, " The Great Plains of 
Canada," and was presented by Professor C. A. Kenaston, of 
Howard University. 

January 25, 1889, Seventeenth Meeting. 

The paper of the evening was entitled, "Irrigation in Cali- 
fornia," by Mr. William Hammond Hall, State Engineer of 
California. To be published in the " National Geographic Mag- 
azine," Vol. I, No. 4. 

Abstract of Minutes. 271 

Febrriary 8, 1889, Eighteenth Meeting. 

The following papers were read by Prof. W. M. Davis, of 
Harvard University : " Topographic Models," and " Certain 
Peculiarities of the Rivers of Pennsylvania." Published in the 
" National Geographic Magazine," Vol. I, No. 3. 

February 22, 1889, Nineteenth Meeting. 

The paper of the evening was entitled, " Round about Ashe- 
ville, N. C," by Mr. Bailey Willis. The paper was illustrated 
by charcoal sketches and lantern slides. Discussion followed, 
which was participated in by Messrs. Baker, Merriam and McGee. 
To be published in the " National Geographic Magazine," Vol. I, 

No. 4. 

March 8, 1889, Twentieth Meeting. 

The following amendments to the By-Laws were adopted. 
[For Article VI substitute the following] : 



" Regular meetings of the Society sliall be held on alternate Fridays, 
from November until May, and excepting the annual meeting, they 
shall be devoted to communications. The Board of Managers shall, 
however, have power to postpone or omit meetings, when deemed 
desirable. Special meetings may be called by the President. 

" The annual meeting for the election of officers shall be the last reg- 
ular meeting in December. 

' ' The meeting preceding the annual meeting shall be devoted to the 
President's annual address. 

" The reports of the retiring Vice-Presidents shall be presented at the 
meetings in January. 

"A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of twenty- 
five active members." 

In Article V, the following paragraph was introduced immedi- 
ately after the first paragraph of the article : 

" The dues of members elected in November and December shall be 
credited to the succeeding year." 

The following papers were then presented : " A Trip to Panama 
and Darien," by Mr. R. U. Goode, and " Survey of Mason and 
Dixon's Line," by Mr. Mark B. Kerr. 

A Trip to Panama and Darien, to be published in the " Na- 
tional Geographic Magazine," Vol. I, No. 4. 

272 National Geographic Magazine. 

March 22, 1889, Twenty-first Meeting. 

The paper of the evening was entitled, " Recent Events in the 
U. S. of Columbia," by Mr. W. E. Curtis. The discussion which 
followed was participated in by Messrs. Baker, Gannett, and 

April 5, 1889, Twenty-second Meeting. 

The paper of the evening was entitled, " House Life in Mexico," 
by Mr. A. B. Johnson. 

April \^, 1889, Twenty-third Meeting. 

This meeting was devoted to papers upon the Samoan Islands. 
The following programme was presented : 

*' Samoa ; the General Geography and Hydrography of the 
Islands and Adjacent Seas," by Mr. Everett Hayden. 

" Climate," by Prof. Cleveland Abbe. 

" Narrative of a Cruise Among the Islands," by Capt. R. W. 
Meade, U. S. N. 

" The Home Life of the Samoans and the Botany of the Isl- 
ands," by Mr. W. E. Safford, U. S. N. 

May 3, 1889, Twenty-fourth Meeting. 

The paper of the evening was entitled, "Across Nicaragua 
with Transit and Machete," by Mr. R. E. Peary, U. S. N. To be 
published in the " National Geographic Magazine," Vol. I, No. 4. 

May 17, 1889, Twenty-fifth Meeting. 

The paper of the evening was entitled, " The Krakatoa Erup- 
tion," by Dr. A. Graham Bell. The paper was discussed by 
Captain C. E. Dutton. 

Internaiional Literary Contest. 273 

{Translated by Mr. B. L. Lerch.) 


To be held at Madrid, Spain, under the auspices of the Commission in 
charge of the celebration of the Fourth Centennial Anniversary of 
the Discovery of America. 


The work for which a prize is offered is to be a prose essay, a 
true historic picture giving a just estimate of the grandeur of 
the occasion to be celebrated. 

So much has been Avritten on this subject since the opening of 
the XVIth century that it would seem difficult to say anything 
new and good. Perhaps the details, perhaps the circumstances 
in the life and acts of Columbus are worthy of no little research ; 
but already the Royal Academy of History is engaged in the 
erudite and diligent task of bringing together and publishing 
the un-edited or little known papers bearing on this question. 

The book required by this contest must be of a different nature : 
it must be comprehensive and synoptic, and must be sufficiently 
concise without being either obscure or dry. 

Although there is an abundance of histories of America, of 
voyages and discoveries, of geographic science, and of the estab- 
lishment of Europeans in remote regions of the earth, there is no 
book that sets forth as it can be done the combined efforts of the 
nations of the Iberian peninsula, who, since the commencement 
of the XYth century, have, with a fixity of purpose and marvelous 
tenacity, in almost a single century of silent efforts brought 
about the exploration of vast continents and islands, traversed 
seas never before cut by Christian prows, and in emulous strife 
obtained almost a comjDlete knowledge of the planet on which 
we live. 

There is a growing interest and manifest unity in all those more 
important events ; not to mention the circumstantial evidence 
borne by the charts of 13V5 and the semi-fabulous voyages, such 
as that of Doria y Vivaldi and others less apocryphal though 
isolated and barren of results, like that of Ferrer, begun in 1434, 
w-hen Gil Eannes doubled Cape Bojador, discovered Guinea, and 

274 National Geographic Magazine. 

dispelled the terror inspired by the unknown ocean, and ended in 
1522 with Elcano's arrival at Sanlucar after circumnavigating the 

In all this activity very little occurs by chance. The pro- 
gressive series of geographic discoveries, due to persistent pre- 
meditation and not to accident, was inaugurated at Sagres by 
the Infante D. Enrique and his illustrious pilot Jaime de Mal- 

Well might Pedro Nunes exclaim that from that time forth 
until the form and size of the terraqueous globe were thoroughly 
known, the most to be obtained would not be firmly established, 
" unless our mariners sailed away better instructed and provided 
with better instruments and rules of Astronomy and Geography 
than the things with which cosmographers supplied them." 

The culmination in the progress of that beautiful history falls 
on the 12th of October, 1492, when Columbus was the first Euro- 
pean to set foot upon the intertropical shores of the New World. 
But this act, considered apart from its intrinsic value, as purely 
the individual inspiration of a mariner and the generous enthu- 
siasm of a patron Queen, derives a higher value when regarded 
as part of a summation of efforts, a grand development of an 
idea, a purpose to explore and know the whole globe, to spread 
the name and the law of Christ together with the civilization of 
Europe, and to reap a harvest of gold, spices, and all the riches 
of which costly samples and exaggerated reports were furnished 
by the trafiic of the Venetians, Genoese and Catalonians, who in 
turn got them from Mussulmans. 

Doubtless the moving cause, whose gorgeous banner so many 
men of our peninsula followed, was clothed in great sentiments, 
good or bad ; their hearts were filled with religious fervor, thirst 
for glory, ambition. Christian love, cupidity, curiosity, and vio- 
lent dissatisfaction (even during the Renaissance), to seek and 
undergo real adventures that should surpass the vain, fruitless, 
and fanciful adventures of chivalry ; and to make voyages and 
conquests eclipsing those of the Greeks and Romans, many of 
which, recorded in classic histories and fables, were now dis- 
interred by the learned. 

What must be described is the complete picture in all its 
sumptuousness so that its magnificent meaning may stand out 
distinctly, without which the conviction would be lacking that the 
studies, voyages, and happy audacity of Bartolome Diaz, Gama, 

International Literary Contest. 2Y5 

Alburqiierque, Cabral, Balboa, Magallanes, Cortes, Pizarro, Orel- 
lana, and a host of others, do not dim the glory of the hero whose 
centennary is to be celebrated, even though it heighten and add 
greater luster to the work of civilization begun by Poi'tugal. , . . 

The book here vaguely outlined must also contain a compendi- 
ous introduction, notices of voyages, ideas, and geographic 
progress up to the date of D. Enrique's establishment at Sagres, 
and an epilogue or conclusion of greater extent, in which are 
examined and weighed the changes and progress that our sub- 
ject has made, collectively, in the civilization of the world — in the 
commerce, economics and politics of the peoples, in regard to 
the broad field opened to the intelligent activity of Europe, over 
which it could spread and dominate ; the abundance of data, 
sunken hopes, and more secure basis lent to the studious and wise 
for the extension of our knowledge of Nature, the unraveling of 
her laws, and penetration of her mysteries. 

The vast, elevated argument of the book requires it be a 
finished work of art, not in fullness and richness of diction, but 
in plan and order, in sobriety and unity of style, whose nobility 
and beauty must lie in simplicity of phrase, correctness of judg- 
ment and richness of thought. 

There may enter into this contest any unpublished work written 
to this end in Spanish, Portuguese, English, German, French or 

The tribunal that is to award the prize will be composed of 
two members of the R. Acad, of History, and one member from 
each of the Spanish R. Academies of Moral Sciences and Politics, 
and Exact and Natural Sciences — all to be chosen by the Acade- 
mies themselves. 

Furthermore, there will be in(3luded in the tribunal the diplo- 
matic representative of every power whose subject or subjects 
wish to enter the contest, which is to be done through said repre- 
sentative or some person duly appointed to act in his place. 

The tribunal will elect its presiding officer and will decide on 
the best works by an absolute majority of all the jurors who take 
part in the vote. 

Each work submitted in this contest must be neatly copied, in 
legible writing, on good paper, without the author's name but 
with a quotation to identify him afterwards. 

Each author will inclose a separate folded sheet on whose 
exterior is written the quotation he has chosen and the opening 

276 National Geographic Magazine. 

sentence of his work ; within, he will write his name and residence. 

The folded sheets corresponding to the works that did not get 
a prize will be burnt publicly without being opened. 

Though it is difficult to set a limit as to size, the works should 
not have more reading matter than is contained in two volumes 
of the shape and size of the complete works of Cervantes issued 
by Rivadeneyra in 1863-4. 

If the plan or purpose of any of the works require il, there 
may be added another volume of documents, maps, or other 

As it will take time to examine and judge the works, they 
should be sent to the Secretary of the R, Acad, of Hist, prior to 
January 1, 1892. 

There will be first prize of 30,000 pesetas ($5,790) and a second 
of 15,000 pesetas ($2,895). 

Besides this, each of the two successful authors will receive 500 
copies of the printed edition of his work. 

It rests with the Centennial Commission to determine the num- 
ber of copies in the edition of each of the two prize works, and 
what disposition is to be made of the copies that are not given to 
the authors. 

These (the authors) keep the right to re-print and to sell their 
works, and to translate them into other tongues. 

The Commission, however, will have the right, if either or both 
prize works are in a foreign tongue, to have them translated and 
published in Castilian. 

The Commission affix their seal to the preceding directions for 
the information of the public and government of those persons 
who desire to participate in the contest. 

Madrid, June 19, 1889. 

The Vice President, Duke of Yeragua. 
Secretai'ies, Juan Valera, Juan F. Riano. 


h ' 

« V i }\ V f. 

(. i 

Vol. I. 

No. 4. 







Price 50 cents. 




Irrigation in California, by Wm. Hammond Hall, State Engineer 

of California, '.377 

Round about Asheville, by Bailey Willis, 291 

(Illustrated by one Map and Profile. ) 

A Trip to Panama and Darien, by Richard U. Goode, . . . 301 
(Illustrated by one Map and Profile.) 

Across Nicaragua with Transit and Machete, by R. E. Peary, 

Civil Engineer, U. S. N., 315 

(Illustrated by one Map and three Views.) 

October, 1889. 




Yol. I. 1889. No. 4. 


By Wm. Hammond Hall. 
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Society : 

"When" I was invited to address this society I had no mate- 
rial at hand on the subject. I have come to the east with- 
out any notes or memoranda whatever, from which to jarepare a 
lecture or address, no statistical data which would make a paper 
valuable, no notes of characteristic facts to render an address 
interesting, and no time to write anything to guide me in any 
way to a proper treatment of the subject. Some of your members 
have thought that I have written something worthy of being 
read, and hence this invitation to address you. But, even if they 
are right, people who can write cannot always talk, so if I fail in 
this address, I shall hope, on the basis of their opinion, that you 
will find in the reports I have written something worthy of read- 
ing. The subject has been announced as the "Problems of Irri- 
gation in the United States." I should like very much to speak 
broadly on that subject, but I am unable to do so, for the reasons 
I have given, and shall have to speak rather of irrigation in Cali- 
fornia, trusting that something which is said, may, perchance, be 
valuable in relation to the subject at large. Irrigation in the 
far west, generally, is attracting a vast deal of attention. This 
is particularly the case on the Pacific Coast — the field with which 

VOL. I, 21 

278 National Geograjyhio Magazine. 

I am specially acquainted. I apprehend that although many gen- 
tlemen present have a far-reaching and definite appreciation of 
the subject at large, many others do not appreciate the value and 
importance of irrigation. In the arid parts of California (for we 
do not admit that California is as a whole arid) it is a vital mat- 
ter. There it is a question of life, for the people. ISTot more 
than one-sixth of the tillable area in the State can sustain a really 
dense population, without irrigation ; two thirds of it will not 
sustain even a moderate population, without irrigation ; while 
one third will not sustain even a sparse population, without such 
artificial watering. Think well over these facts. They are very 
significant. I doubt whether they are generally appreciated in 
California itself. 

I have no doubt many persons are familiar with the geography 
of the State, but, doubtless, some are not. California has a coast 
line of 800 miles and a width of from 140 to 240 miles. It is 
traversed almost throughout its length by a great mountain chain 
extending along near the eastern boundary, which is called the 
Sierra Nevada, and by a lesser range, more broken and less unified, 
running parallel to the coast, called the Coast Range, the south- 
ern extension of which, after joining the Sierra Nevada, is called 
the Sierra Madre, and at the further extremity, the San Jacinto 
and San Diego mountains. Within the interior of the State, 
looked down upon by the Sierra Nevada on the east, and closed 
in by the Coast Range on the west, is the great interior basin — 
the valley of the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers — forming a 
plain 450 miles long, with an average width of from 40 to 60 
miles. Outside of the Sierra Madre in the southern part of the 
•State, and within the Coast Range, is another interior valley, 
nearly 100 miles in length and from 20 to 30 miles in width, and 
outside of the Coast Range, and lying next to the ocean, is a 
plain whose length is from 60 to 70 miles, and width 15 to 20 
miles. These three areas — the great interior valley, the southern 
interior valley, and the coast plain of the south — are the principal 
irrigation regions of the State. Numbers of smaller areas, as 
those in San Diego county, come in as irrigation regions of less 
importance, and the scattering valleys along the Coast Range 
farther north, as the Salinas, etc., will come forward in the future 
as important irrigable districts of the State. Still further north, 
in the interior, there are the great plains of Lassen and Mono 
counties, and some scattering valleys in Shasta county, where 

Irrigation in California. 279 

irrigation is also practiced or is being introduced, and these are 
on a par with the districts of San Diego county, in the matter of 
rank as irrigation regions. East of the Sierra Nevada, and at 
their base, lies the Owen's river country, an area suitable for 
irrigation, where irrigation is necessary and where it is being 
introduced. Upon the great Mojave desert and the Colorado 
desert, there is at present no irrigation. The water supply is 
very scanty. This is an irrigation region of the future, but it is 
not regarded by Californians as a practicable one at present. 

With this general idea of the State, we will now look at the 
rainfall and water supply. The State contains 157,440 square 
miles of territory, of which 17,747 di-ain into the ocean north of 
the Golden Gate, 21,665 drain into the ocean south of the Golden 
Gate, 55,942 drain into the interior basins, and 62,086 drain out 
at the Golden Gate. Of this territory which drains out by the 
Golden Gate, 26,187 square miles comprise the Sacramento valley, 
31,895 square miles the San Joaquin valley, and 4,004 the country 
draining directly to the bays, making the 62,086 given above as 
the whole area. 

The necessity for irrigation in California, and the relative 
necessity in different parts of the State, are shown by the distri- 
bution of rainfall. The San Joaquin valley has an average of 
less than 10 inches of rainfall, the Sacramento has an average of 
between 10 and 20 inches. The great deserts of the Mojave and 
Colorado have an average of less than 10 inches, and in certain 
localities only 3 to 6 inches. The Salinas valley, a small portion 
of the coast above Los Angeles, and a portion of the interior 
valley of the south, have also an average of less than 10 inches. 

So, we may say, that the great irrigation regions of California 
have average amounts of rainfall varying from about 6 up to 20, 
but generally less than 10 inches. This rain is distributed in four 
or five months of each year, with some slight showers in one or 
two months other than these ; the remainder of the year being 
absolutely dry, with no rainfall whatever. Hence, you will see 
at once, the necessity for the artificial application of water in 
California. In the older countries of Europe, where irrigation 
has been practiced for centuries, for instance, in Spain, where 
water is used more extensively than in California, the annual 
mean rainfall ranges between 10 and 25 inches. In the irriga- 
tion regions of France, the mean rainfall ranges from 10 to 40 
inches ; in the irrigation regions of Italy, the rainfall is between 

280 National Oeogra^hic Magazine. 

20 and 35 inches — for instance, in the valley of the Po, the classic 
land of irrigation, the annual precipitation is from 25 to 35 inches. 
There are none of these European irrigation regions where the 
rainfall is less than 10, and generally it is over 20 inches. But 
you will see that the most of the Californian irrigation regions 
have less than 15 inches, some less than 10, and the greatest rain- 
fall of any large irrigable region in California is 18 inches, or, 
exceptionally, for smaller regions, 25 inches ; while in Europe, 
the maxima are from 25 to 40 inches in countries where irriga- 
tion has long been practiced. It follows, then, that there is no 
place in Europe where it is so much needed as over a large part 
of California. Another reason why the necessity is felt in our 
Pacific Coast State, is found in the character of our soils ; and 
not alone the surface soils, but the base of the soil — the deep 
subsoils. We have soils exceptionally deep ; soils which extend 
below the surface to 50 feet, underlaid by loose sand and open 
gravels, so that the rainfall of winter is lost in them. The annual 
rain seldom runs from the surface. It follows that these lands 
ai-e generally barren of vegetation without the artificial applica- 
tion of water. 

Considering now the sources of water-supply : we have in the 
southern pai't of the State many streams which flow only for a 
few weeks after rainfall, and other streams which run two or 
three months after the rainy season. But there is not a stream 
in all California south of the Sierra Madre (except the Colorado, 
which has it sources of supply outside of the State) which flows 
during the summer with a greater volume than about 70 to 80 
cubic feet per second — a stream 15 feet in width, 2 feet deep, and 
flowing at the rate of 2^ to 3 feet per second— a little stream that, 
in the eastern part of the continent, would be thought insignifi- 
cant. The largest stream for six months in the year, in all south- 
ern California, is the Los Angeles river. The Santa Ana river, 
the next largest, flows from two sevenths to one third as much ; 
the San Gabriel, the next largest, has perhaps two thirds or three 
fourths as much as the Santa Ana ; and so, a stream which will 
deliver as much water as will flow in a box 4. feet wide and 1^ 
feet deep, at a moderate speed, during summer months, would be 
regarded as a good-sized irrigation feeder in that southern country. 
In the greater interior basin or central valley, we find other con- 
ditions. Here we have a different class of streams. The great 
Sierra Nevada receives snow upon its summits, which does not 

Irrigation, in California. 281 

melt till May or June and July. The melting of these snows is 
the source of supply of the streams ; so that, while in far southern 
California, with two or three exceptions, the greater flow of water 
in the streams is almost gone by June, in this central region it is 
the period of the height of irrigation, and the streams are flowing 
at their maximum. Kern river presents about 2000 to 3000 cubic 
feet of water per second ; King's river presents in the maximum 
flow of the season about twice to three times as much as Kern 
river ; the Tuolumne river about as much as King's. As we go 
farther north, the Sacramento river presents more than three 
times as much as the Tuolumne, so that in the northern part of 
the great valley, where the rainfall on the valley itself is greatest, 
and, consequently, the necessity for irrigation is least, the irriga- 
tion supply increases ; and conversely, the greatest area of irriga- 
tion in the valley and the greatest necessity for it, is, in general, 
where the water supply is least. 

About 100 years ago irrigation was commenced in California. 
The Roman Catholic priests, coming from Mexico where irriga- 
tion had long been practiced, introduced it. They established 
missions among the Indians, started cultivation, and by the labor 
of these Indians built the original irrigation works. The practice 
of irrigation was extended in San Diego county, as far as we are 
able to trace, to several thousand acres ; in San Bernardino county 
in the southern interior valley, they thus cultivated and watered, 
perhaps 2000 acres ; and in Los Angeles county there were pos- 
sibly 3000 acres irrigated under Mexican rule. Traces of the old 
mission works are found in San Diego, San Bernardino and Los 
Angeles counties, and as far north as Monterey county. 

Then came the gold fever, when canals were dug throughout 
the foot-hills of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, for the 
supply of water for the mining of gold ; and these canals have 
since, in many instances, been turned into feeders for ii'rigation. 
Several thousand miles of irrigation ditches have thus been created 
from old mining ditches. In 1852, a band of Mormons came from 
Salt Lake into the San Bernardino valley ; they bought a Mexican 
grant rancho there, took possession of some old mission works, 
constructed others and started irrigating. That was probably the 
first irrigation colony, on a large scale, composed of others than 
Mexicans, in California. In 185d, some Missouri settlers went 
into the valley of Kern river, diverted water from that stream, 
and commenced irrigation upon a small scale. In 1858, the waters 

282 National Geographic Magazine. 

of Cache creek, in the Sacramento valley, were taken out for irri- 
gation. In 1859, the waters of King's river were taken out and 
utilized for irrigation. These instances represent in general out- 
line the commencement of irrigation in the State. Now we have 
in the neighborhood of 750,000 or 800,000 acres actually irrigated 
each year, and that represents what would ordinarily be called an 
iri"igation area of 1,200,000 acres ; and there are commanded by 
the works — reasonably within the reach of existing canals — an 
area of about 2,500,000 acres. 

In the organization of irrigation enterprises there is great 
diversity. Commencing with the simplest form, we have a ditch 
constructed by the individual irrigator for his own use ; we have 
then successively ditches constructed by associated irrigators 
without a definite organization, for the service of their own land 
only ; ditches constructed by regularly organized associations of 
farmers, with elected officers ; works constructed by farmers who 
have incorporated under the general laws of the State and issued 
stock certificates of ownership in the properties, for the service 
of the stockholdei'S only ; works where incorporations have been 
formed for the purpose of attaching water stock to lands that 
are to be sold, bringing in the element of speculation ; then works 
where the organization has been effected with a view of selling 
water-rights ; and finally, organizations that are incorporated for 
the purpose of selling water. There is a great difference between 
the principles of these methods of organization, and the practical 
outcome is a great difference in the service of water and in the 
duty of water furnished by them. In selling water, measurement 
of volume is made by modules — the actual amount of water 
delivered is measured — or it is sold by the acre served, or in pro- 
portional parts of the total available flow of the season. 

The general character of the irrigation works of the State varies 
very much with the varying conditions under which it is prac- 
ticed. In the San Joaquin valley. King's river, for instance, 
comes out of the mountains nearly on a level with the surface of 
the plain, cutting down not more than a few feet below its banks ; 
and hence but little labor is required to divert its waters out upon 
the lands to be irrigated ; but farther north, the Tuolumne, as 
another example, comes out of the mountains in a deep canon, 
and the foot-hills extend far down the plain on each side. It is 
easily seen, then, that it will require a million or more dollars to 
divert from the latter sti'eam the amount of water diverted from 

Irrigation in California. 283 

King's river by the expenditure of a few months' work, by a 
small force of the farmers themselves. On King's river, individual 
and simple cooperative effort is sufficient to bring water enough 
upon the plains to irrigate thousands of acres, while in the case 
of the Tuolumne river it is absolutely necessary to have associated 
capital in large amount — an entirely different principle of organi- 
zation from that which was originally applied on King's river and 
the Kern and other rivers in the southern part of the great central 
valley. In discussions on the subject of irrigation some people 
have advanced the idea that the works should be undertaken by 
the farmers, and that capital should have nothing to do with 
them. That may do very well where the physical conditions will 
admit of such a course, and where nothing but the farmers' own 
service depends upon it ; but the great majority of the streams of 
California are of such a character that the work of the farmers 
can avail nothing. There must be strong associations and large 
capital. For this purpose special laws are required. On the 
Santa Aiia, in San Bernardino county, water has been easily 
diverted, and such is the case with every stream in the interior 
valley of San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. 

Capital for the first works was not required. The water was 
procured by primitive methods and the works were simple. But 
in San Diego, an entirely different condition of affairs prevailed. 
There the waters are back in the mountains, twenty or twenty- 
five miles from the coast, and the irrigable lands are close along 
the coast, or within ten or twelve miles of it. To bring the 
water out of these mountains requires the construction of ditches 
following the mountain sides for 20 to 35 miles. But simple 
ditches do not answer, because of the great quantity of water 
lost from them. So the companies have resorted to fluming,^ 
and even to lining the ditches with cement. Thus in San 
Diego, individual effort is out of the question. Farther north 
again, in the great interior valley. King's river is a stream where 
cooperative and individual effort have been efficient, although it 
requires a greater amount of capital there than in the southern 
interior valley. In the southern interior valley, perhaps, $10,000 
would often build a ditch and divert all the water that the supply 
would furnish. On King's river the works have cost from $15,000 
to $80,000 each ; on Kern river the works have cost from $15,000 
to $250,000 each ; and on the Tuolumne they will cost from 
$1,000,000 to $1,200,000 apiece. On Merced river, the cost has 

284 National Geographic Magazine. 

been $800,000 for one work. Taking the streams from San 
Joaquin river north, that come out of the Sierra Nevada, up to the 
northern end of the valley where the Sacramento river enters it, 
every important stream comes into the valley within a deep gorge. 
The beds of several of the northern streams are so filled up with 
mining debris that diversion from them would be comparatively 
easy, but in their natural state there is not an important stream 
north of the San Joaquin which could be utilized for irrigation 
by any other means than through the agency of capital in large 
amount. On the west side of this great valley the tillable strip 
is comparatively narrow. It is on the lee side of the coast range 
of mountains. Precipitation is made first on the seaward face of 
the Coast Range, and then crosses the valley, dropping upon the 
inland face of the outer range very little more than upon the 
valley itself, where the precipitation is only about 10 inches. So 
that we have no streams coming out of the Coast Range into the 
southern part of the interior valley specially noteworthy as irriga- 
tion feeders. But as we go northward the Coast Range becomes 
wider, and the big mountain basin containing Clear Lake fur- 
nishes a large supply of water to Cache Creek, probably enough 
for 10,000 acres. Stony Creek flows between two ridges of the 
Coast Range, and out on to the plains, furnishing about the same 
amount of water ; but still there are no streams from the Coast 
Range into the valley that are comparable with those of the 
Sierra Nevada. In the northeastern corner of the State, on the 
great plains of Modoc, we have the Pitt river, a stream of very 
considerable volume, but its waters are in comparatively deep 
channels, not very well adapted to diversion, and the. consequence 
is, they have been utilized to a very small extent, only on small 
bottom-land farms. The whole stream can be utilized, however, 
and the country is thirsting for water. 

The practice of irrigation in California is as diverse as it could 
well be. California, as you know, covers a very large range in 
latitude, but a greater range in the matter of climate and adapta- 
bility to the cultivation of crops. In the southei'n portion of the 
State, the orange and the banana and many other semi-tropical 
fruits flourish. In some localities along the foot-hills of the Sierra 
Nevada, also, those fruits flourish, particularly the orange and the 
lemon. In the valley of San Joaquin, wheat is grown by irriga- 
tion, and in some places profitably, and in Kern county quite 
profitably (were it not for high transportation charges), because 

Irrigation in California. 285 

the cost of distributing and applying water has been reduced to a 
minimum. There the lands have been laid out with as much care 
and precision as the architect would lay out the stones in a build- 
ing and the mason would place them. Irrigation is conducted in 
some Kern river districts with the greatest ease, scarcely requir- 
ing the use of the shovel. The lands are so laid off with the 
oheck levels that by simply opening gates in the proper order, as 
the irrigation superintendents know how, the waters flow out and 
cover the successive plats or " checks " in their order, without 
leaving any standing water, and finally flowing off without mate- 
rial waste. This is the perfection of irrigation by the broad or 
submerging system, — a method wherein the slope of the ground 
is first ascertained, platted by contours, and the checks to hold 
the water, constructed with scrapers, are then run out on slight 
grade contours — not perfectly level, but on very gentle slopes. 

There is no portion of the far southern part of the State where 
the check method is applied as it is in Kern county. The practice 
in San Bernardino is to irrigate entirely by running water in rills 
between the rows of plants. Orange trees planted 24 to 30 feet 
apart are irrigated by rills in plough fuiTOws, 5 to 8 between 
rows, down the slope of the orchard, which slope varies from 
about 1 foot in a hundred to 4 or 5 in a hundred. In Los Angeles 
county they make banks about a foot high around each individual 
tree, forming basins 5 or 6 to 10 or 12 feet in diameter according 
to the size of the tree. Into these the water is conducted by a 
ditch, and the basin being filled, the water is allowed to remain 
and soak away. The low, nearly flat valley lands, when irrigated, 
are generally divided into square " checks," without respect to 
the slope of the ground, and the surface is simply flooded in water 
standing 6 inches to a foot in depth. 

In the northern part of the State, in Placer and Yuba counties, 
clover is grown on hills having side slopes of 10 to 15 feet in a 
hundred, and irrigated in plough furrows cut around on contours 
— which furrows are about 5 to 10 feet apart horizontally — and 
the water is allowed to soak into the ground from each such 

These are the five principal methods of applying water : by 
the check system ; by rills ; by the basin method ; by the basin 
method as applied to low valleys ; and by contour ditches on 
hill sides. The method selected for any particular locality 
is determined not alone by the crop to be cultivated, but also 

286 National Geographic Magazine. 

by the slope of the land and the character of the soil. For 
instance, on lands where oranges are cultivated, in the southern 
part of the State, where rills are most generally used, water 
cannot be applied by the flooding system, for the reason that 
irrigation would be followed by ci-acking of the soil, so that 
the trees would be killed. It is necessary on such land to 
cultivate immediately after irrigation, and the method of applica- 
tion is governed more by the soil than by the character of the 

We find in California very marked and important effects fol- 
lowing irrigation. For instance, taking the great plains of Fresno, 
in the San Joaquin valley : when irrigation commenced there 
twenty years ago, it was 70 to 80 feet down to soil water — abso- 
lutely diy soil for nearly 80 feet — and it was the rule throughout 
the 'great plain, 20 miles in width and 25 miles in length, that 
soil water was beyond the reach of the suction pump ; now, in 
places, water stands on the surface, rushes grow, mosquitos breed,, 
malarial fevers abound, and the people are crying for drainage; 
and lands, whose owners paid from five to twenty dollars per acre 
for the right to receive water, now need drainage, and irrigation 
is considered unnecessary. The amount of water taken from 
King's river which was, a few years ago, regarded as not more 
than sufiicient for one tenth of the land immediately commanded 
and that seemed to require it, is now applied to a fourth of the 
whole area ; so that if irrigation keeps on, the time will come 
when the whole country will require draining. 

In a district, where water is applied by the broad method, I 
saw in 1877 enough water, by actual measurement of flow, put on 
20 acres of land to cover it 18 feet deep, in one season, could 
it all have been retained upon it. It simply soaked into the 
ground, or flowed out under the great plain. Taking cross sec- 
tions of this country, north and south and east and west, I found 
that where the depth to soil water had, before irrigation, been 
about 80 feet, it was then 20, 30, 40 or 60 and more feet down to 
it. The soil water stood under the plain in the form of a moun- 
tain, the slope running down 40 to 50 feet in a few miles on the 
west and north. On the south and southwest the surface of this 
water-mountain was much more steep. In the Kern river country, 
we have a somewhat similar phenomenon. Irrigation, in the 
upper portion of the Kern delta, afiiects the water in the wells 6 
or 8 miles away. As I remember the effect is felt at the rate of 

irrigation in California. 287 

about a mile a day, that is to say, when water is used in irriga- 
ting the upper portion of the delta, or of Kern island, as it is 
called, the wells commence to rise a mile away in twenty-four 
hours, and five miles away in perhaps five days. 

In the southern portion of the State, in San Bernardino county, 
at Riverside, we find no such effect at all. There it was 70 to 90 
feet to soil water before irrigation and it is, as a general rule, 
70 to 90 feet still. Water applied on the surface in some places 
has never even wet the soil all the way down, and wells dug there, 
after irrigation had been practiced for years, have pierced dry 
ground for 25 or 30 feet before getting down to where soil waters 
have wetted it from below. The consequences of these phenom- 
ena are twofold. In the first place, in the country that fills up 
with water, the duty of water — the quantity of land which a 
given amount of water will irrigate — has increased. Starting 
with a duty of not more than 25 acres to a cubic foot of water 
per second, we now find that, in some localities, this amount 
irrigates from 100 to 160 acres ; and that some lands no longer 
require irrigating. In the southern portion of the State, how- 
ever, the cubic foot of water irrigates no more than at first, 
and it is scarcely possible that it will ever irrigate much more. 
The saving, as irrigation goes on in the far southern portion of 
the State, will be effected chiefly through the better construc- 
tion of canals and irrigation works of delivery and distribution. 
In Tulare valley, the duty of water will increase as the ground 
fills up. 

In Fresno, a county which was regarded as phenomenally 
healthy, malarial fevers now are found, while in San Bernar- 
dino, at Riverside, such a thing is rarely known. Coming to 
Bakersfield, a region which before irrigation commenced was 
famed for its malarial fevers — known as unhealthful throvighout 
all the State — where soil water was originally within 15 feet of the 
surface, irrigation has almost entirely rid it of the malarial effects. 
Chills and fever are rare now, where before irrigation they were 
prevalent. What is the reason that where chills and fever pre- 
vailed, irrigation has made a healthful country, while where chills 
and fevers were not known, irrigation has made it unhealthful ? 
I account for it in this way : in the Kern river country before 
irrigation was extensively inti'oduced, there were many old 
abandoned river channels and sloughs, overgrown with swamp 
vegetation and overhung by dense masses of rank-growing foliage. 

288 National Geographic Magazine. 

Adjacent lands were in a more or less swampy condition ; ground 
waters stood within 10 or 20 feet of the surface, and there was no 
hard-pan or impermeable stratum between such surface and these 
waters. In other words, general swampy conditions prevailed, 
and malarial influences followed by chills and fevers were the 
result. Irrigation brought about the clearing out of many of 
these old channel ways, and their use as irrigating canals. The 
lands were cleared off and cultivated, fresh water was introduced 
through these channels from the main river throughout the hot 
months, and the swamp-like condition of the country was changed 
to one of a well-tilled agricultural neighborhood with streams of 
fresh water flowing through it ; and the result, as I have said, 
was one happy in its effect of making the climate salubrious and 

Considering now the case of the King's river or the Fresno 
country, the lands there were a rich alluvial deposit, abounding 
in vegetable matter which for long ages perhaps had been, except 
as wetted by the rains of winter, dry and dessicated. Soil water 
was deep below the surface. Then irrigation came. Owing to 
the nature, of the soil, the whole country filled up with the water. 
Its absorptive qualities being great and its natural drainage 
defective, the vegetable matter in the soil, subjected to more 
or less continued excessive moisture, has decayed. The fluctu- 
ation of the surface of the ground waters at different seasons 
of the year — such surface being at times very near to the ground 
surface, and at other times 5 or 6 feet lower — has contributed to 
the decaying influences which the presence of the waters engen- 
dered. The result has been, when taken with the general over- 
growth of the country with vegetation due to irrigation, a vitia- 
tion of the atmosphere by raalarious outpourings from the soil. 
The advantage of the pure atmosphere of a wide and dry plain 
has been lost by the miasmatic poisonings arising from an over- 
wet and ill-drained neighborhood, with the results, as affecting 
human healthfulness, of which I have already spoken. The 
remedy is of course to drain the country. The example is but a 
repetition of experiences had in other countries. The energy and 
pluck of Californians will soon correct the matter. 

George P. Marsh, in his " Man and Nature," laid it down as a 
rule that an effect of irrigation was to concentrate land holdings 
in a few hands, and he wrote an article, which was published in 
"one of our Agricultural Department reports, in which he rather 

Irrigation in California. 289 

deprecates the introduction of irrigation into the United States, 
or says that on this account it should be surrounded by great 
safeguards. He cited instances in Europe, as in the valley of the 
Po, where the tendency of irrigation had been to wipe out small 
land holdings, and bring the lands into the hands of a few of the 
nobility. He cited but one country where the reverse had been 
the rule, which was in the south and east of Spain, and pointed 
out the reason, as he conceived it, that in south and south- 
eastern Spain the ownership of the water went with the land 
and was inseparable from it, under ancient Moorish rights. It is 
a fact, that where the ownership of water goes with the land, it 
prevents centering of land ownership into few hands, after that 
ownership is once divided among many persons, in irrigated 
regions. But Mr. Marsh overlooked one thing in predicting harm 
in our country ; that is, that it will be many years before we will 
get such a surplus of poor as to bring about the result he feared. 
In California, the effect of irrigation has not been to center the 
land in the hands of a few. On the contrary, the tendency has 
been just the other way. When irrigation was introduced it 
became possible for small land holders to live. In Fresno county, 
there are many people making a living for a family, each on 20 
acres of irrigated land, and the country is divided into 20 and 
40-acre tracts and owned in that way. In San Bernardino the 
same state of things prevails. Before irrigation, these lands were 
owned in large tracts, and it was not an uncommon thing for one 
owner to have 10,000 to 20,000 acres of land. So that the rule 
in California, which is the effect of irrigation, is to divide land 
holdings into small tracts, and in this respect, also, irrigation is a 
blessing to the country. It enables large owners to cut up their 
lands and sell out to the many. Land values have advanced from 
11.25 in this great valley to $50, |150 and even S250 per acre, 
simply by attaching to the land the right to take or use water, 
paying in addition an annual rental : in the southern portion of 
the State, they have advanced from $5 and |10 to $500 and even 
$1000 an acre, where the land has the right to water ; and many 
calculations have been made and examples cited by intelligent and 
prominent people, to show that good orange land or good raisin- 
grape land with sufficient water supply is well worth $1000 an 
acre. Water rights run up proportionately in value. A little 
stream flowing an inch of water^— an amount that will flow through 
an inch square opening under four inches of pressure — in the 

290 National Geographic Magazine. 

southern part of the State, is held at values ranging from |500 to 
$5000. Such a little stream has changed hands at 15000, and not 
at boom prices either. In the interior prices are much less, being 
from about a quarter to a tenth of those in the far southern part 
of the State. 

Fully one fourth of the United States requires irrigation. 
When I say that, I mean that fully one fourth the tillable area 
of our country requires irrigation, in order to support such a 
population as, for instance, Indiana has. The irrigated regions 
of Italy support populations of from 250 to 300 people to the 
square mile ; of south France, from 150 to 250 people to the square 
mile ; of southeast Spain, from 200 to 300, When we have 50 to 
100 to the square mile in an agricultural region we think we have 
a great population. 

The great interior valley of California will not support, with- 
out irrigation, an average of more than 15 to 20 people per 
square mile. Irrigate it and it will support as many as any other 
portion of the country — reasonably it will support 200 to the 
square mile. I have no doubt that the population will run up to 
ten or twelve millions in that one valley, and there are regions 
over this country from the Mississippi to the Pacific, millions of 
acres, that can be made to support a teeming population by the 
artificial application of water. And why has it not been done 
before ? Simply for the reason that there is a lack of knowledge 
of what can be done and a lack of organization and capital to 
carry out the enterprises. 

The government has recently placed at the disposal of the 
United States Geological Survey an appropriation for the inves- 
tigation of this subject, to ascertain how irrigation can be secured, 
the cost of irrigation works, and point out the means for irriga- 
tion, in the arid regions. It is one of the wisest things Congress 
ever did ; wise in the time and in the subject. The time will 
soon come when the question would have been forced upon the 
country, and the wisdom of preparing for that time cannot be 
too highly commended. 




'" X 1 I () 1 / 

Round about Asheville. 291 


By Bailey Willis. 

A BEOAD amphitheatre lies in the heart of the North Carolina 
mountains which form its encircling walls; its length is forty 
miles from north to south and its width ten to twenty miles. 
At its southern gate the French Broad river enters ; through 
the northern gate the same river flows out, augmented by the 
many streams of its extensive watershed. 

From these water-courses the even arena once arose with 
gentle slope to the surrounding heights and that surface, did it 
now exist, would make this region a very garden, marked by its 
genial climate and adequate rainfall. But that level floor 
exists no longer; in it the rivers first sunk their channels, their 
tributaries followed, the gullies by which the waters gathered 
deepened, and the old plain was thus dissected. It is now only 
visible from those points of view from which remnants of its 
surface fall into a common plane of vision. This is the case 
whenever the observer stands upon the level of the old arena; 
he may then sweep with a glance the profile of a geographic 
condition which has long since passed away. 

Asheville is built upon a bit of this plain between the ravines 
of the French Broad and Swannanoa rivers, now flowing 380 
feet below the level, and at the foot of the Beau-catcher hills; 
toward which the ground rises gently. The position is a com- 
manding one, not only for the far reaching view, but also as the 
meeting place 6f lines of travel from north, south, east, and west. 
Thus Asheville became a town of local importance long before 
railroads were projected along the lines of the old turnpikes. 
The village was the center of western North Carolina, as well of 
the county of Buncombe, and was therefore appropriately the 
home of the district Federal court. A May session of the court 
was in progress nine years ago when I rode up the muddy street 
from the Swannanoa valley. Several well-known moonshiners 
were on trial, and the town street was crowded with their sym- 
pathizers, lean mountaineers in blue and butternut homespun. 
Horses were hitched at every available rack and fence, and horse 

292 National Geographic Magazine. 

trading was a«tive. Whiskey was on trial at other bars than 
that of the court, and the long rifle, powder-horn and pouch had 
not been left in the mountains. To a " tenderfoot " (who had 
the day before been mistaken for. a rabbit or a revenue ofl&cer !) 
the attentions of the crowd were not reassuring. 

The general opinion was, I felt, akin to that long afterward 
expressed by Groundhog Cayce: "It air an awful thing ter kill a 
man by accident;" and I staid but a very short time in Asheville. 

Riding away toward the sunset, I traversed the old plain 
without seeing that it had had a continuous surface. I noted 
the many gullies, and I lost in the multitude of details the wide 
level from which they were carved. That the broader fact should 
be obscured by the many lesser ones is no rare experience, and 
perhaps there is no class of observations of which this has been 
more generally true than of those involved in landscape study. 
But when once the Asheville plain has been i-ecognized, it can 
never again be ignored. It enters into every view, both as an 
element of beauty and as evidence of change in the conditions 
which determine topographic forms. Seldom in the mountains 
can one get that distance of wooded level, rarely is the fore- 
ground so like a gem proportioned to its setting; all about Ashe- 
ville one meets with glimpses of river and valley, sunken in 
reach beyond reach of woodland which stretch away to the blue 
mountains. The even ridges form natural roadsites, and in 
driving one comes ever and anon upon a fresh view down upon 
the stream far across the plain and up to the heights. And to 
the student of Appalachian history, the dissected plain is a sig- 
nificant contradiction of the time honored phrase, "the everlast- 
ing hills." That plain was a fact, the result of definite conditions 
of erosion ; it exists no more in consequence of changes. What 
were the original conditions? In what maniier have they 
changed? Let us take account of certain other facts before 
suggesting an answer. Of the mountains which wall the Ashe- 
ville amphitheatre, the Blue Ridge on the east and the TJnaka 
chain on the west are the two important ranges. The Blue 
Ridge forms the divide between the tributaries of the Atlantic 
and those of the Gulf of Mexico, and the streams which flow 
westward from it all pass through the Unaka chain. It would 
be reasonable to suppose that the rivers rose in the higher and 
flowed through the lower of the two ranges, but they do not. 
The Blue Ridge is an irregular, inconspicuous elevation but little 

Round about Ashemlle. 293 

over 4000 feet above the sea; the Unaka mountains form a mas- 
sive chain from 5000 to 6500 feet in height. That streams 
should thus flow through mountains higher than their source 
was once explained by the assumption that they found passage 
through rents produced by earth convulsions ; but that vague 
guess marked the early and insufficient appreciation of the power 
of streams as channel cutters, and it has passed discredited into 
the history of our knowledge of valley-formation. That rivers 
carve out the deepest caiions, as well as the broadest valleys, is 
now a truism which we must accept in framing hypotheses to 
account for the courses of the French Broad and other similar 
streams. Moi'eover, since waters from a lower Blue Ridge could 
never of their own impulse have flowed over the higher Unaka, 
we are brought to the question, was the Blue Ridge once the 
higher, or have streams working on the western slope of the 
Unaka range (when it was a main divide), worn it through from 
west to east, capturing all that broad watershed between the two 
mountain ranges ? Either hypothesis is within the possibility of 
well established river action, and both suggest the possibility of 
infinite change in mountain forms and river systems. Without 
attempting here to discriminate between these two hypotheses, 
for which a broader foundation of facts is needed, let us look at 
the channel of the French Broad below Asheville, in the river's 
course through the range that is higher than its source. Descend- 
ing from the old plain into the river's ravine, we at once lose all 
extended views and are closely shut in by wooded slopes and 
rocky bluffs. The river falls the more rapidly as we descend, 
and its tributaries leap to join it, the railroad scarce finding 
room between the rocks and the brawling current. The way is 
into a rugged and inhospitable gorge whose walls rise at last on 
either hand into mountains that culminate some thirty miles 
below Asheville. At Mountain Island the waters dash beauti- 
fully over a ledge of conglomerate and rush out from a long 
series of rapids into the deep water above Hot Springs. Beyond 
the limestone cove in which the sj^rings occur, the valley, though 
narrow still, is wider and bottom lands appear. Thus the water 
gap of the French Broad through the Unakas is narrow and 
rugged, the river itself a tossing torrent; but had we passed down 
other streams of similar course, we should have found them even 
more turbulent, their channels "even more sharply carved in the 
hard rocks. On Pigeon river there are many cliffs of polished 

294 National Geographic Magazine. 

quartzite, and on the Nolichucky river a V-shaped gorge some 
eight miles long is terraced where the ledges of quartzite are 
horizontal and is turreted with fantastic forms where the strata 
are vertical. Where the river valleys are of this sharp cut char- 
acter in high mountains, the abrupt slopes, cliffs and rocky pin- 
nacles are commonly still more sharply accented in the heights. 
The Alpine tourist or the mountaineer of the Sierras would ex- 
pect to climb from these caiions to ragged combs or to scarcely 
accessible needle-like peaks. But how different from the heights 
of the Jungfrau are the "balds" of the Unakas! like the ice- 
worn granite domes of New England, the massive balds present 
a rounded profile against the sky. Although composed of the 
hardest rock, they yet resemble in their contours, the low relief 
of a limestone area. Broad, even surfaces, on which rocky Out- 
crops are few and over which a deep loam prevails, suggest 
rather that one is wandering over a plain than on a great moun- 
tain; yet you may sweep the entire horizon and find few higher 
peaks. The view is often very beautiful, it is far-reaching, not 
grand. No crags tower skyward, but many domes rise nearly to 
the same heights, and dome-like, their slopes are steepest toward 
the base. The valleys and the mountains have exchanged the 
characters they usually bear ; the former are dark and forbidding, 
wild and inaccessible, the latter are broad and sunlit of softened 
form, habitable and inhabited. All roads and villages are on 
the heights, only passing travelers and those who prey upon 
them frequent the depths. 

These facts of form are not local, they are general : all the 
streams of the Unaka mountains share the features of the French 
Broad Canon, while peaks like Great Roan, Big Bald, Mt. Guyot, 
are but examples of a massive mountain form common through- 
out the range. 

Thus the Unaka chain presents two peculiar facts for our 
consideration ; it is cut through by streams rising in a lower 
range, and its profiles of erosion are convex upward not down- 

If we follow our river's course beyond the Unaka chain into 
the valley of East Tennessee we shall still find the channel deeply 
cut ; here and there bottomlands appear, now on one side, now 
on the other, but the banks are more often steep slopes or verti- 
cal cliffs from fifty to one hundred feet high. The creeks and 
brooks meander with moderate fall through the undulating sur 

Round cibout Ashemlle. 295 

face of the valley, but they all plunge by a more or less abrupt 
cascade into the main rivers. It is thus evident that the tributa- 
ries cannot keep pace with the rivers in channel-cutting, and the 
latter will continue to sink below the surface of general degrada- 
tion until their diminished fall reduces their rate of corrasion 
below that of the confluent streams. 

If froili topographic forms we turn to consider the materials, 
the rocks, of which they are composed, we shall find a general 
rule of relation between relative elevation and rock-hardness. 
Thus the great valley of East Tennessee has a general surface 
3000 feet below the mean height of the Unakas : it is an area of 
easily soluble, often soft, calcareous rocks, while the mountains, 
consist of the most insoluble, the hardest, silicious rocks. East 
of the Unakas the surface is again lower, including the irregular 
divide, the Blue Ridge ; here also, the feldspathic gneisses and 
mica schists are, relatively speaking, easily soluble, and non- 
coherent. What is thus broadly true is true in detail, also where 
a more silicious limestone or a sandstone bed occurs in the valley 
it forms a greater or less elevation above the surface of the soft 
rocks ; where a more soluble, less coherent stratum crops out in 
the mountain mass, a hollow, a cove, corresponds to it. Of 
valley ridges, Clinch mountain is the most conspicuous example ; 
of mountain hollows the French Broad valley at Hot Springs, or 
Tuckaleechee Cove beneath the Great Smoky mountain, is a fair 

But impassive rock-hardness, mere ability to resist, is not 
adequate to raise mountains, nor is rock-softness an active agent 
in the formation of valleys. The passive attitude of the rocks 
implies a force, that is resisted, and the very terms in which that 
attitude is expressed suggest the agent which applies the force. 
Hardness, coherence, insolubility, — these are terms suggestive of 
resistance to a force applied to wear away, to dissolve, as flowing 
water wears by virtue of the sediment it carries and as perco- 
lating waters take the soluble constituent of rocks into solution. 
And it is by the slow mechanical and chemical action of water 
that not only canons are carved but even mountain ranges 
reduced to gentle slopes. 

If we designate this process by the word " degradation," it 
follows from the relation of resistance to elevation in the region 
under discussion that we may say : The Appalachians are moun- 
tains of differential degradation ; that is, heights remain where 

'296 National Geographic Magazine. 

the rocks have been least energetically acted on, valleys are 
carved where the action of water has been most effective. 

In order that the process of degradation may go on it is essen- 
tial that a land mass be somewhat raised above the sea, and, 
since the process is a never-ceasing one while streams have suffi- 
cient fall to carry sediment, it follows that, given time enough, 
every land surface must be degraded to a sloping plain, to what 
has been called a base level. 

With these ideas of mountain genesis and waste, let us con- 
sider some phases of degradation in relation to topographic 
forms ; and in doing so I cannot do better than to use the terms 
employed by Prof. Wm. M. Davis. 

When a land surface rises from the ocean the stream systems 
■which at once develope, are set the task of carrying back to the 
sea all that stands above it. According to the amount of this 
alloted work that streams have accomplished, they may be said 
to be young, mature or aged ; and if, their task once nearly com- 
pleted, another uplift raise more material to be carried off, they 
may be said to be revived. These terms apply equally to the 
land-surface, and each period of development is characterized by 
'certain topographic forms. 

In youth simple stream systems sunk in steep walled canons 
are separated by broad areas of surface incompletely drained. 
In maturity complex stream systems extend branches up to every 
part of the surface ; steep slopes, sharp divides, pyramidal peaks 
express the rapidity with which every portion of the surface is 

In old age the gently rolling surface is traversed by many 
quiet flowing streams ; the heights are gone, the profiles are 
rounded, the contours subdued. In the first emergence from the 
sea the courses of streams are determined by accidents of slope, it 
may be by folding of the rising surface into troughs and arches. 
During matui'ity the process of retrogressive erosion, by which 
a stream cuts back into the watershed of a less powerful opponent 
stream, adjusts the channels to the outcrops of soft rocks and 
leaves the harder strata as eminences. In old age this process 
of differential degradation is complete and only the hardest rocks 
maintain a slight relief. 

Suppose that an aged surface of this character be revived : the 
rivers hitherto flowing quietly in broad plains will find their fall 
increased in their lower courses ; their channels in soft rock will 

Round about Asheville. 297 

rapidly become canons, and the revived phase will retreat up 
stream in the same manner that the canons of youth extended 
back into the first uplifted mass. If the area of soft rocks be 
bounded by a considerable mass of very hard rocks, it is con- 
ceivable that a second phase of age, a base level, might creep 
over the valley while yet the summits of the first old age re- 
mained unattacked, and should perchance revival succeed revival 
the record of the last uplift might be read in sharp cut channels 
of the great rivers, while the forms of each preceding phase led 
like steps to the still surviving domes of that earliest old age. 

Is there aught in these speculations to fit our facts? 1 think 
there is. We have seen that our mountains and valleys are the 
result of differential degradation, and that this is not only broadly 
true but true in detail also. This is evidence that streams have 
been long at work adjusting their channels, they have passed 
through the period of maturity. 

We have climbed to the summits of the Unakas and found 
them composed of rocks as hard as those from which the pinnacle 
of the Matterhorn is chiseled ; but we see them gently sloping, as. 
a plain. These summits are very, very old. 

We have recognized that dissected plain, the level of the 
Asheville amphitheatre, now 2,400 feet above the sea ; it was a, 
surface produced by subaerial erosion, and as such it is evidence 
of the fact that the French Broad River, and such of its tributa- 
ries as drain this area, at one time completed their work upon it,, 
reached a base level. That they should have accomplished thi& 
the level of discharge of the sculpturing streams must have been 
constant during a long period, a condition which implies either 
that the fall from the Asheville plain to the ocean was then much, 
less than it now is, or that through local causes the French Broad, 
was held by a natural dam, where it cuts the Unaka chain. 

If we should find that other rivers of this region have carved, 
the forms of age upon the surfaces of their intermontane valleys, 
and there is now some evidence of this kind at hand, then we 
must appeal to the moi'e general cause of base-levelling and 
accept the conclusion that the land stood lower in relation to the 
ocean than it now does. Furthermore, we have traversed the 
ravines which the streams have cut in this ancient plain and we 
may note on the accompanying atlas sheet that the branches ex- 
tend back into every part of -it ; the ravines themselves prove 
that the level of discharge has been lowered, the streams have 

298 National Geographic Magazine. 

been revived ; and the wide ramification of the brooks is the 
characteristic of approaching maturity. 

We have also glanced at the topography of the valley and 
have found the rivers flowing in deep-cut simple channels which 
are young, and the smaller streams working on an undulating 
surface that is very sensitive to processes of degradation. 

The minor stream systems are very intricate and apparently 
mature, but they have not yet destroyed the evidence of a gen- 
eral level to which the whole limestone area was once reduced, 
but which now is represented by many elevations that approach 
1,600 feet above the sea. Here then in the valley are young 
river channels, mature stream systems and faint traces of an ear- 
lier base level, all of them more recent than the Asheville level, 
which is in turn less ancient than the dome-like summits of the 

What history can we read in these suggestive topographic 
forms and their relations ? 

The first step in the evolution of a continent is its elevation 
above the sea. The geologist tells us that the earliest uplift of 
the Appalachian region after the close of the Carboniferous 
period was preceded or accompanied by a folding of the earth's 
crust into mountainous wave-like arches ; upon these erosion at 
once began and these formed our first mountains. Where they 
were highest the geologist may infer from geologic structure and 
the outcrops of the oldest rocks ; but the facts for that inference 
are not yet all gathered and it can only be said that the heights 
of that ancient topography were probably as great over the val- 
ley of Tennesseee as over the Unaka chain. The positions of 
rivers were determined by the relations of the arches to each 
other and, as they were in a general way parallel, extending 
from northeast to southwest, we know that the rivers too had 
northeast-southwest courses. From that first drainage system 
the Tennessee river, as far down as Chattanooga, is directly de- 
scended, and when the geologic structure of North Carolina and 
East Tennessee is known, we may be able to trace the steps of ad- 
justment by which the many waters have been concentrated to 
form that great river. At present we cannot sketch the details, 
but we know that it was a long process and that it was accom- 
panied b}^ a change in the raison d'Ure of the mountain ranges. 
The first mountains were high because they had been relatively 
raised ; they gave place to hills that survived because they had 

Round about Asheville. 299 

not been worn down. A topography of diiferential uplift gave 
place to one of differential degradation. And to the latter the 
dome-like " balds " of the Unakas belong. Those massive sum- 
mits of granite, quartzite and conglomerate are not now cut 
by running waters ; they are covered with a mantel of residual 
soil, the pi'oduct of excessively slow disintegration, and they are 
the remnants of a surface all of which has yielded to degradation, 
save them. In time the streams will cut back and carve jagged 
peaks from their masses, but standing on their heights my thought 
has turned to the condition they represent — the condition that is 
past. And thus in thought I have looked from the Big Bald out 
on a gently sloping plain which covered the many domes of 
nearly equal height and stretched away to merge on the horizon 
in the level of the sea. That, 1 conceive, was the first base level 
plain of which we have any evidence in the Appalachians and 
from that plain our present valleys have been eroded. The con- 
tinental elevation must then have been 3,000 or 4,000 feet less 
than it is now, and the highest hills were probably not more than 
2,500 feet above the sea. This was perhaps a period of constant 
relation between sea and land, but it was succeeded by one dur- 
ing which the land slowly rose. The rivers, which had probably 
assumed nearly their present courses, were revived ; the impor- 
tant channels soon sank in canons, the tributaries leaped in rapids 
and cut back into the old base level. The region continued to 
rise during a period long enough to produce the essential features 
of the mountain ranges of to-day ; then it stood still in relation 
to the sea or perhaps subsided somewhat, and the French Broad 
and probably other rivers made record of the pause in plains like 
that about Asheville. Again the land rose slowly ; again it 
paused, and rivers, working always from their mouths backward, 
carved a base-level in the limestones of the great valley ; but 
hefore that level could extend up through the gorges in the 
Unakas, the continent was raised to its present elevation, the 
streams responded to the increased fall given them and the rivers 
in the valley began to cut their still incomplete canons. 

Are we not led step by step from these latest sharply cut chan- 
nels up stream through the chapters of erosion to the still surviv- 
ing domes of an early old age ? Let us sum up the history we 
have traced. There is reason to believe that : 

1st, The consequent topography of the earliest Appalachian 
uplift was entirely removed during a prolonged period of erosion 
and was replaced by a relief of differential degradation. 

300 National Geographic Magazine. 

2d. The balds of the Unakas represent the heights of that first- 
known approach to a base-level. 

3d. The topography of the region has been revived by a gen- 
eral, though not necessarily uniform, uplift of 3,000 feet or more, 
divided by two intervals of rest ; during the first of these the 
Asheville base-level was formed ; during the second, the valley 
alone was reduced. 

4th. The latest movement of the uplift has been, geologically 
speaking, quite recent, and the revived streams have accomplished 
but a small part of their new task. 

These conclusions are reached on the observation of a single 
class of facts in one district ; they must be compared with the 
record of continental oscillation on the sea coasts, in the deposits 
of the coastal plain, and in the topography of other districts. 

The history of the Appalachians is written in every river sys- 
tem and on every mountain range, but in characters determined 
for each locality by the local conditions. Only when the knowl- 
edge, to which every tourist may contribute, is extended over 
the entire region shall we know conclusively the whole story. 

9 2' 





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^^"oaajna 11 -B-- 

. (;<rio 


JS aila ItTa-Tioe 

A Trip to Panama and Darien. 301 


By Richard U. Goode. 

The Government of the United States of Colombia in its act 
of Concession to the Panama Canal Company provided that it 
should give to the latter " gratuitement et avec toiites les mines 
quHls pourront contenir'''' 500,000 hectares of land. 

Some of the conditions attached to this grant were, that the 
land should be selected within certain limits and surveyed by 
the Canal Company ; that a topographical map should be made of 
the areas surveyed and that an amount, equal to that surveyed for 
the canal should also be surveyed for the benefit of the Colombian 
Government. It was also further agreed that it would not be 
necessary to complete the canal before any of the land should be 
granted, but that it would be given at different times in amounts 
proportional to the amount of work accomplished. 

Thus in 1887, the Government agreed to consider that one-half 
of the work on the canal had been finished and that the canal 
was consequently entitled to 250,000 hectares of land, upon the 
completion of the necessary surveys, etc. 

The land was eventually chosen partly in Darien and partly in 
Chiriqui as follows : 

In Darien three lots, one between the Pay a and Mangle rivers, 
one between the Maria and Pirri rivers, the two amounting to 
100,000 hectares, and one lot of 25,000 hectares between the 
Yape and Pucro rivers. 

In Chiriqui, which is a Province of Panama just east of Costa 
Rica, two lots were chosen amounting to 125,000 hectares, one 
between the Sigsola and Rabalo rivers, and the other between the 
Catabella and San Pedro rivers. 

The Canal Company wanted the title to the land in order that 
it might be used as collateral security in bolstering up the 
finances of the corporation, and the Colombian Government was 
doubtless very willing to let the- Canal Company have this amount 
or as much more as was wanted, both parties being equally aware 
of the valueless character of the land for any practical purposes. 

My services were engaged in 1888 in connection with the astro- 

302 National Geographic Magazine. 

nomical work incident to the survey of these grants and it was 
intended that I should visit both Darien and Chiriqui, but the 
contract term expired about the time of the completion of the 
work in Darien, which was taken up first, and it was deemed 
prudent for various reasons, the chief of them being the un- 
healthiness of the locality at that season of the year, about the 
middle of April, not to remain longer on the Isthmus. If it had 
been possible to work as expeditiously as in this country there 
would have been ample time to have completed the necessary 
astronomical work for both surveys, and without understanding 
men and methods peculiar to a tropical country I started out with 
this expectation, but soon found out that any efforts looking 
towards expediting any particular matter were not only useless 
but were detrimentally reactive upon the person putting forward 
such efforts. Thus it was nearly the first of March before I 
reached Darien, having sailed from New York a month previously. 
Passage was had from Panama to Darien in a steamer chartered 
for the purpose. Sailing across the Bay of Panama and entering 
the Tuyra River at Boca Chica, we ascended the river as far as 
the village Real de St. Marie. At this point the steamer was 
abandoned and further transportation was had in canoes. 

Darien is a province of the State of Panama and its boundaries 
as given by Lieut. Sullivan in his comprehensive work on " Prob- 
lem of Interoceanic Communication," are as follows : " The 
Atlantic coast line is included between Point San Bias and Cape 
Tiburon ; that of the Pacific extends from the mouth of the 
Bayano to Point Ardita. The eastern boundary is determined by 
the main Cordillera in its sweep across the Isthmus from a posi- 
tion of close proximity to the Pacific, near Point Ardita, to a 
similar position near Tiburon, on the Atlantic. The valleys of 
the Mandinga and Mamoni-Bayano determine its western limit." 

The Darien hills as seen from the Atlantic side present to the 
view an apparently solid ridge of mountains, although there are 
in reality many low passes which are concealed by projecting 

The dividing ridge hugs close to the Atlantic, and the rivers, 
of which there are a great many on this side, plunge abruptly to 
the sea. On the Pacific side the rivers have a much longer dis- 
tance to flow before reaching the sea, and the territory bordering 
on the ocean is low and swampy. The tidal limit of the Tuyra 
River is neai'ly fifty miles from its mouth, and on this river and 

A Trip to Panama and Darien. 303 

many of its tributaries one can travel many miles inland before 
ground sufficiently solid to land upon can be found. The vegeta- 
tion within this low lying area is thick and closely matted 
together, and this fact taken in connection with the swampy char- 
acter of the ground, makes travel on foot through any portion of 
it exceedingly difficult. Therefore the various rivers, which 
form a very complex system and penetrate everywhere are the 
natural highways of the country. The chief rivers on the Pacific 
side are the Tuyra and Boyano with their numerous tributaries 
and on the Atlantic watershed is the Atrato. 

A peculiarity noticed at Real de St. Marie, which is at the junc- 
tion of the Pyrrhi and Tuyra rivers and at which point the tide has 
a rise and fall of twelve or fifteen feet, was that at low tide it was 
impossible to enter the mouth of the Pyrrhi with a boat, while 
five or six miles up the stream there was always a good supply of 
flowing water and at double that distance it became a mountain 

Outside of the swampy area the character of the country is 
rough and mountainous. The valleys are narrow and the ridges 
exceedingly sharp, the natural result of a great rain fall. The 
hills are able to resist the continued wasting effect of the vast 
volumes of descending water only by their thick mantle of accu- 
mulated vegetation, and were it not for this protection the many 
months of continuous annual rain would long ago have produced 
a leveling effect that would have made unnecessary the various 
attempts of man to pierce the Isthmian mountains and form an 
artificial strait. 

The ridges are sometimes level for a short distance, but are 
generally broken and are made up of a succession of well rounded 
peaks. These peaks are always completely covered with trees 
and from the top of the sharpest of them it is impossible to get 
a view of the surrounding country. The highest point climbed 
was about 2,000 feet above sea level and the highest peak in 
Darien is Mt. Pyrrhi which is between three and four thousand. 

Darien has been the scene of a great deal of surveying and ex- 
ploration from the time that Columbus, in 1503, coasted along its 
shores, hoping to find a strait connecting the two oceans, up to 
the present time. Balboa, in 1510, discovered the Pacific by 
crossing the Darien mountains from Caledonia Bay. This dis- 
covery taken in connection with the broad indentations of the 
land noted by Columbus, led the old world to believe in the exist- 

304 National Geographic Magazine. 

ence of a strait, and tlie entire coast on each side of the new 
world was diligently searched. The Cahots, Ponce de Leon and 
Cortez interested themselves in this search and it was not until 
about 1532 that all expectations of finding the strait were aban- 
doned. The idea of a direct natural communication between the 
oceans being thus dispelled, the question of an artificial junction 
arose, and in 1551 a Spanish historian recommended to Philip II. 
of Spain the desirability of an attempt to join the oceans by 
identically the same routes to which the attention of the whole 
civilized portion of the world is now being drawn, that is, 
Tehauntepec, Nicaragua and Panama. From this time up to the 
commencement of the work of the Isthmian expeditions sent out 
by the United States, and which lasted from 1870 to 1875, but little 
geographical knowledge relative to Darien was obtained. The 
United States expeditions undoubtedly did a great amount of valu- 
able exploration and surveying, and while the names of Strain, 
Truxton, Selfridge and Lull will always be held in high esteem for 
what they accomplished in this direction, still it is to be regretted 
that with all the resources at their command they did not make a 
complete map of the country. And just here I want to bring 
forward the suggestion that all that has been accomplished and 
more, could have been accomplished if the various explorers had 
known, or practically utilized, a fact that my own experience and 
that of other topographers, in this country and Darien, has im- 
pressed upon me ; and that is, that it is easier in a rough and 
mountainous country to travel on the ridge than in the valley. 
In Darien they were looking for a low pass in the Cordillera and 
this was what should have first been sought, directly. Having 
found the low passes the valleys of the streams draining there- 
from could have then been examined, and thus all necessary infor- 
mation could have been obtained and the subject exhausted. The 
plan followed by the Isthmian expeditions was to ascend a stream 
with the hope of finding a suitable pass. The pass might be 
found or it might not, and if not, so much labor as far as the 
direct solution of the problem was concerned was lost. A pass 
of low altitude was of primary importance and should have been 
sought for in an exhaustive way. 

Humboldt said in substance, " Do not waste your time in run- 
ning experimental lines across. Send out a party fully equipped, 
which keeping down the dividing ridge the whole length of the 
Isthmus, by this means can obtain a complete knowledge of the 

A Trip to Panama and Darie7i. 305 

hypsometrical and geological conditions of the dam that obstructs 
the travel and commerce of the world." But strange to say this 
plan suggested by such an eminent authority as Humboldt and 
so strongly recommended by common sense, has never been fol- 
lowed, and to-day after all the money that has been spent and the 
lives lost in explorations in Darien, thei'e is not suiRcient data 
collected to prove conclusively that there does not now exist 
some route for an interoceanic canal that possesses merits superior 
to any at present known. It is true the dividing ridge would be 
difficult to follow' on account of the great number of confusing 
spurs, but I think I am safe in saying that starting from the sum- 
mit of the main ridge at Culebra pass on the Isthmus of Panama, 
the dividing ridge extending to the pass at the head waters of 
the Atrato could be exhaustively followed and studied with as 
much facility as could either the Tuyra or Atrato rivers, embrac- 
ing with each their respective tributaries. 

I traveled on some of the high dividing ridges in Darien, and 
did not find that progress was at all difficult, and especially noted 
the fact of the absence of tangled undergrow^th and matted vines 
vs^hich is so characteristic of the Darien forests generally. 

Now a few words about the inhabitants of Panama and Darien, 
and in referring to these I mean the native inhabitants and not 
the indiscriminate gathering of all nationalities that were attracted 
by the Panama Canal. 

In Central and South America, as in North America, the abo- 
riginal inhabitant was the Indian. When the Spaniards first 
attempted to colonize Darien they were met and resisted by the 
native Indian just as our forefathers were in Virginia and Massa- 
chusetts, and as with us so in Panama and Darien the Indians 
have been driven back by degrees fi'om the shores of both oceans 
until now they are found only in the far interior. 

They resemble our Indians in appearance, but are smaller. 
They are averse to manual labor and live almost entirely by 
hunting and fishing, although they sometimes have small planta- 
tions of plantains, bananas, oranges and lemons. The Spaniards 
in settling in the new country brought very few women with them 
and the Colombian of to-day is the result of the admixture of the 
Indian and Spanish blood, and has many of the chai'acteristics of 
each race. In addition to the Indian and Colombian there are in 
Panama and Darien a comparatively large number of negroes, 
who were originally imported as slaves by the early Spaniards, 

306 National Geographic' Magazine. 

and who now constitute by far the larger portion of the inhabit- 
ants of Darien, being found usually in villages along the valleys 
of the larger streams. In contrast to the Colombian and Indian 
they are large in stature and make excellent laborers. 

The principal villages in Darien, as Yovisa, Pinagana and Real 
de St. Marie, are inhabited exclusively by the negroes, with the 
exception of a Spanish judge in each, who exercises great 
authority. Besides being a judge in civil and criminal cases, he 
practically controls everything in his jDarticular village, as all 
contracts for labor are negotiated with him and settlement for 
services made through him. 

Upon reaching Darien the first work assigned me was the sur- 
vey and exploration of the Pyrrhi river. This survey was made 
for two purposes : primarily, to determine if any of the country 
bordering upon it was of a sufficiently desirable character to 
include it within the grant, and secondly, to secure data for the 
general topographical map. My instructions were to proceed as 
far south as latitude 7° 30'. The ascent of the river was made 
in canoes until the frequency of rapids made it necessary to 
abandon them, and then the journey was continued on foot, gen- 
erally wading in the middle of the stream, as the undergrowth 
was too thick to admit of progress along the banks. Sometimes 
the water was very shallow ; at other times, where it had been 
backed up by dams of porphyritic rock, it reached above the 
waist, and near the end of the journey where the river ran 
between vertical walls of great height it was necessary to swim 
in order to get beyond this canon. 

The survey of this river was satisfactorily accomplished in 
about a week. The method adopted for the survey was to take 
compass bearings and to estimate distances. These courses and 
distances were plotted as they were taken and thus the topo- 
graphical and other features could be readily sketched in connec- 
tion with them. To check and control this work, observations 
were taken every day at noon with a sextant, on the sun, for 
latitude and time, and at night circum-meridian altitudes of stars 
were obtained when possible. 

Thus a number of rivers were surveyed — the Maria, Tucuti, 
Yovisa and other tributaries of the Tuyra. When it was found 
that a sufficiently correct idea of the country for topographical 
purposes could not be obtained by simply meandering the water 
courses, lines or trochas were cut through the forest from stream 

A Trip to PmiaTna and Darien. 307 

to stream, and where two streams thus connected were tributaries 
of a common river, all of which had been previously surveyed, a 
closed figure was obtained, an adjustment for errors of closure 
made, and by putting together the topographical data obtained 
by the four lines, there was generally found to be sufficient 
information to give a satisfactory though of course a crude 
delineation of the included area. 

After a number of rivers had been examined with more or less 
accuracy in this way, it was finally decided that the area for one 
portion of the grant best suited for the purposes of the Canal 
Company lay on the right bank of the Tuyra river, and that the 
portion of the river which lay between the mouths of two of its 
tributaries, the Rio Yape and the Rio Pucro, should be one of 
the boundaries of the grant. The Yape and Pucro have courses 
approximately parallel to each other and at right angles to the 
Rio Tuyra, and these streams were also chosen as boundary lines, 
so that the grant would have the three rivers as natural bounda- 
ries, and the fourth and closing boundary was to be a straight 
line from a certain point on the Yape to the Pucro, so located as 
to include within the four boundaries an area approximately equal 
to the amount of the grant, which in this particular case was 
25,000 hectares. The problem then presented was : given three 
rivers for three boundaries of a figure to establish a fourth and 
artificial line, completing the figure in such a way that it should 
contain a given area, and also to procure data for a topographical 
map of the country surveyed. 

This survey was put under my direction and I was instructed 
to proceed to a point overlooking the Tuyra river, between the 
Rio Yape and the Rio Pucro, near the mouth of the Rio Capite, 
for the purpose of establishing a base camp. Leaving Real de 
St. Marie on the evening of March 1 5th, with a fleet of twelve 
canoes and about thirty native laborers, we reached the site for 
the camp in two days. After landing everything, the work of 
clearing away trees and underbrush over an area sufficiently large 
for the camp was commenced. The men worked willingly with 
axe and machete, and soon the forest receded and left bare a 
semi-circular space facing the river. 

Two houses were needed and without saw, nail or hammer the 
construction was commenced and prosecuted rapidly. Straight 
trees about six inches in diameter and twenty feet long were cut 
and planted vertically in holes dug out with the machete, and 

308 National Oeograjphic Magazine. 

Jhorizontal pieces of a smaller diameter were securely fastened on 
with long tough strips of bark, and thus a square or oblong frame 
was fashioned. The horizontal pieces were placed at a distance 
of about three feet from the ground, on which a flooring was 
eventually laid, and at the top of the frame where the slope of 
the roof began. On the top pieces other poles were laid and 
fastened across and lengthwise, and on these the men stood while 
making the skeleton of the roof. The latter was made very steep 
for better protection against the rain. After the ridge pole 
was put in position other smaller poles were fastened on parallel 
and perpendicular to it so that the whole roof was divided up 
into squai'es, and it was finally completed by weaving in thick 
bunches of palm and other leaves in such a way as to make it 
thoroughly water-proof. For our purpose no protection on the 
sides of the structures other than the projecting eaves was con- 
sidered necessary. A floor of poles laid very close together was 
put in one house, the one used for sleeping purposes, and in the 
other a table for eating, writing, draughting, etc., was made. 
Thus in two or three days the place was made thoroughly habita- 
ble, and men were detailed to see that the grounds, etc., were always 
kept thoroughly clean and in a good sanitary condition, a very 
necessary precaution in a tropical country. The forest afforded 
game, the river an abundance of fish ; bananas, oranges, lemons 
and pineapples were easily procured from the natives, who also 
furnished material for a poultry yard, and thus while located at 
camp Capite, situated as it was on a picturesque spot overlooking 
two swiftly flowing rivers, with good drinking water, a commis- 
sary department well stocked, a French cook who would have 
done himself credit anywhere, I could not but think that hereto- 
fore pictures of life in Darien had been too somberly di*awn, and 
that where so much suffering and sickness had prevailed among 
the early explorers it was because they had gone there not prop- 
erly outfitted, and because carried away with ambitious enthu- 
siasm their adventurous spirit had caused them often to undertake 
that which their calmer judgment would not have dictated ; and 
that to these causes as much as to the unhealth^^ condition of the 
locality was due their many hardships. Several days were spent 
here getting time and latitude observations and in mapping out 
plans for the work. It was decided that the mouths of the Yape, 
Capite and Pucro and other points along these rivers, such as 
,mouths of tributary streams, etc., should be astronomically lo- 

A Trip to Panama and Darien. 309 

cated, that these points should be connected by compass lines, 
and also that cross lines should be run at various points from the 
Yape to the Capite and from the Capite to the Pucro. It was 
further decided that as time was limited it would be impracti- 
cable to run out the fourth side of the figure that would contain 
the grant, as the country around the headwaters of the streams 
was known to be exceedingly rough and mountainous, and to 
follow any straight line would necessarily involve a great amount 
of laborious cutting and climbing. 

Furthermore, in order to know just what direction this line 
should follow it would be first necessary to make a connected 
preliminary survey of the three rivers ; to plot this survey and 
then by inspection of the map and consideration of various start- 
ing points to decide on the most available location of the fourth 

Instead of this it was considered best and sufiicient to arbitra- 
rily adopt a certain waterfall on the Rio Yape, the location of 
which was approximately known from a reconnoisance previously 
made, as the initial point of the line connecting the upper Yape 
with the Pucro and closing the figure. Thus it only became nec- 
essary, as far as the boundaries were concerned, to run a line 
along the Tuyra, joining the mouths of the Yape and Pucro ; to 
run a line from the mouth of the Yape to the waterfall above 
referred to ; and to run up the Pucro sufficiently far to be certain 
that when the work was completed and plotted, a line drawn 
from the position of the waterfall on the map in such a way as to 
include the desired area would intersect the Pucro at some point 
within the limit of what had been surveyed. I have not time to 
go into the details of the various trips by land and water neces- 
sary to carry out these plans. 

Before starting it was known exactly what, was necessary to be 
done ; each assistant engineer had his work clearly mapped out 
before him, and each one faithfully performed the task allotted 
to him, so that the whole survey was brought to a successful 
completion. This brought to a close all the work in Darien, the 
other tracts having been surveyed before my arrival and conse- 
quently the whole expedition returned to Panama, and soon 
afterwards I returned to this country. 

In going to and returning from Darien, I passed twice over the 
Panama railroad and along the line of the Panama canal, and I 
have thought that a few facts relative to the canal and railroad 
might prove of interest to the Geographical Society, 

310 National Geographic Magazine. 

Published herewith is a sketch showing the location of the 
railroad, canal and tributary drainage, and a profile along the axis 
of the canal. 

The first surveys for the railroad were made in 1849, and it 
was probably the excitement of the California gold fever that 
brought about its construction at this particular time. Ground 
was broken in January, 1850, and the last rail was laid in Jan- 
uary, 1855. 

The length of the road is 47.6 miles and it crosses the dividing 
summit at an elevation of 263 feet above the mean level of the 
Atlantic ocean. The maximum grade is 60 feet to the mile. 
Soon after the road was built accurate levels were run to deter- 
mine the difference, if any, between the Atlantic and Pacific 
oceans, and it was found that the mean levels were about the 
same, although there are of course variations owing to local 
causes, and considerable differences of height at times, owing to 
differences of tides in the Atlantic and Pacific. At Aspinwall 
the greatest rise is only 1.6 feet, while at Panama there is at 
times a difference of over 21 feet between high and low water. 
The cost of the railroad was $75,000,000. 

The existence of the railroad was probably the deciding cause 
that led Lesseps to the adoption of this location of the proposed 

Now that the scheme has practicall}^ failed it is very easy to 
see and appreciate the difficulties that lay in the way of building 
a canal at this particular place ; and it certainly seems that if 
sound engineering principles had been adopted at least some of 
these difficulties could have been understood and properly com- 
batted. The whole scheme, however, from an engineering stand- 
point, seems to have been conducted in the most blundering 

Lesseps is a diplomat and financier, but in no sense a great en- 
gineer. In the construction of the Suez canal, the questions of 
diplomacy and finance were the most difficult to settle, while the 
engineering problems were comparatively simple. In Panama 
the opposite conditions prevailed. Concessions were freely given 
him by the Colombian government and money freely offered him 
by the French people, but he never grasped or comprehended the 
difficulties that nature had planted in his way, and these only 
seemed to occur to him when they blocked progress in a certain 
direction. The Paris Conference, controlled by Lesseps, decided 

A Trip to Panama and Darien, 311 

on the 29tli of May, 1879, that the construction of an inter- 
oceanic canal was possible and that it should be built from the 
Gulf of Liraon to the Bay of Panama. 

The tide-level scheme was adopted and the following dimen- 
sions decided upon, viz : Length, 45.5 miles ; depth, 28 feet ; 
width at water line 164 feet, and width at bottom 72 feet. 

The route determined upon was about the same as that of the 
railroad, that is along the valleys of the Chagres and Obispo, 
crossing the divide at the Culebra pass and then descending to 
the Pacific along the course of the Rio Grande. The profile 
which is reproduced from " Science," shows the state of progress 
on January 1st, 1888, and the amount of excavation that has been 
done since that time would make but a slight difference in the 
appearance of the profile. The portion shown in black is what 
has been removed along the axis of the canal and represents an 
expenditure of over 1385,000,000 and seven years' labor. The 
reasons that make the scheme impracticable are briefly these, 
some of which were known before the work was commenced, and 
all of which should have been understood. 

The first great difficulty is in cutting through the ridge cul- 
minating at Culebra where the original surface was 354 feet 
above the bed of the proposed canal. It was never known what 
the geological formation of this ridge was until the different 
strata were laid bare by the workman's pick, and the slope 
adopted, \\ to 1, was found to be insufiicient in the less compact 
formations, even at the comparatively shallow depth that was 
reached, and many and serious landslides were of frequent occur- 

Another serious difficulty was the disposition of the excavated 
material, for upon the completion of a sea-level course this chan- 
nel would naturally drain all the country hitherto ti'ibutary to the 
Chagres and Rio Grande, and any substance not removed to a 
great distance would eventually be washed back again into the 
canal. But perhaps the greatest difficulty was in the control of 
the immense surface drainage. The Chagres river during the dry 
season is, where it crosses the line of the canal near Gamboa, only 
about two feet deep and 250 feet wide, but during a flood the 
depth becomes as much as forty feet, the width 1,500 feet, and 
the volume of water discharged 160,000 cubic feet per second. 
The bed of the river is here "42 feet above sea level, or 70 feet 
above what the bottom of canal would have been. Now add to 

312 National Geographic Magazine. 

this a 40-foot flood and we have a water surface one hundred and 
ten feet above the bed of the canal. 

In order to keep this immense vohime of water from the canal 
it was proposed to build a large dam at Gamboa, and to convey 
the water by an entirely different and artificial route to the 
Atlantic. It is impossible to show on the map the whole drain- 
age area of the Chagres, but a rough calculation shows it to be 
about 500 square miles. This seems a small total drainage area, 
but when it is considered that the annual rainfall is about 12 peet,^ 
that this rainfall is confined to about one half the year, and that 
in six consecutive hours there has been a precipitation of over six 
inches of rain, some idea of the amount of water that finds its 
way through the Chagres river during the wet season may be 

As I said before it was proposed to protect the canal from the 
waters of the upper Chagres by an immense dam at Gamboa, and 
for the purpose of controlling the water tributary to the lower 
Chagres two additional canals or channels were to be constructed 
on either side of the main canal. Thus, as the river is veiy tor- 
tuous and the axis of the canal crossed it twenty-five or thirty 
times, many deviations of the former became necessary. In some 
places the canal was to occupy the bed of the river and in others 
it cut across bends leaving the river for its original natural 
purpose of drainage. The difficulty in retaining the floods in 
these constructed channels would of course be immense, especially 
in some of the cases where the water rushing along its natural 
channel is suddenly turned at right angles into an artificial 
one. Thus it is clear that aside from the enormous expense 
incident to the removal of the immense amount of earth and 
rock necessary to complete the canal, that granting all this ac- 
complished, it would be practically impossible to maintain a sea- 
level canal by reason of the difficulty in controlling the Chagres 
and preventing the canal fi'om filling up. 

The canal company finally came to the conclusion that the sea- 
level scheme was impracticable and it was abandoned, and plans 
were prepared for a lock system. As seen on the profile there 
were ten locks proposed, five on each side of the summit level. 
The summit level was to be 150 feet above sea level and conse- 
quently each lock would have a lift of thirty feet. The profile 
was constructed especially to show the amount remaining to be 
executed to complete the lock system, and a mere inspection will. 

A Trip to Panama and Darien. 313 

show the relative amount of completed and uncompleted area 
along the axis of the canal. To complete the summit cut it is 
still necessary to excavate lil feet, 93 feet having already been 
excavated, through a horizontal distance of 3300 feet. The width 
of cut at top surface for the required depth at a slope of \\ to 1 
woixld be 750 feet, but as I said before, at this slope landslides 
were of fi-equent occurrence and the slope would probably have 
to be increased to at least 2 to 1. 

Granting the necessary excavations made, there would be still 
the problem of the control of the Chagres river and the water 
supply for the summit level to provide for. At first it was 
thought that the water supply could be obtained from the storage 
of the waters of the Chagres and Obispo, but this idea was event- 
ually abandoned, either from a belief in the insufficiency of the 
water supply during the dry season, or from diificulties in the 
way of conveying the water to the summit level. 

Then it was that the advice of Mr. Eiffel, a noted French engi- 
neer, was sought, and after a visit to the Isthmus he proposed 
that the summit level should be supplied by pumping from the 
Pacific. A contract was immediately made with Eiffel, who was 
heralded all over the world as the man who would save the canal, 
and immediately a positive day, the seventh that had been an- 
nounced, was fixed for the opening of the great canal. 

I do not know just how much work was done towards perfecting 
the system for pumping, but probably very little was ever accom- 
plished in this direction, as soon after this scheme was thought of 
the available funds of the canal company began to be very scarce, 
and there has been since then a general collapse of work all along 
the line until now it is entirely suspended. From what I 
have said and from what can be seen from the profile, it will be 
readily understood that as far as the sea-level project is concerned 
the amount done is not much more than a scraping of the surface, 
relatively speaking, and that what has been done is in places 
where the obstacles were fewest. 

In regard to the lock, canal about one third of the necessary 
excavation has been made along the axis of the canal, but taking 
into consideration other requirements necessary for the comple- 
tion of the scheme, I should estimate, roughly, that probably only 
one sixth of the whole amount of work had been accomplished. 
The question now naturally arises as to what will be the probable 
future of this great enterprise. 

314 National Geograjphio Magazine. 

The French people have seen the scheme fail under Lesseps in 
whom they had the most unbounded confidence, and it is not 
likely that they will raise any more money to be put in it as a 
business enterprise under any other management. Saddled as it 
is with a debt of nearly four hundred millions of dollars, it would 
be difiicult to convince any one that it could ever prove to be a 
paying investment. Nor do I think that any American or English 
corporation can be organized that could obtain such concessions 
from Lesseps as would make the scheme an inviting field for 
capitalists, and thus my opinion is that the " Compagnie Uhiver- 
selle du Canal Inter oc'eanique de Panama has irretrievably col- 
lapsed, and that the canal will remain, as it is now, the most 
gigantic failure of the age. 



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Across Nicaragua ivith Transit and MacJiete. 315 


By R. E. Peary. 

The action of this National Society, with its array of distin- 
guished members, in turning its attention for an hour to a region 
which has interested the thinking world for more than three cen- 
turies gives me peculiar pleasure and satisfaction, 

I propose this evening to touch lightly and briefly upon the 
natural features of Nicaragua, to note the reasons for the inter- 
est which has always centered upon her, to trace the growth 
of the great project with which her name is inseparably linked ; 
to show you somewhat in detail, the life, work, and surroundings 
of an engineer within her borders ; and finally to show you the t 
result that is to crown the engineer's work in her wide spreading 
forests and fertile valleys. 

That portion of Central America now included within the 
boundaries of our sister republic Nicaragua, has almost from the 
moment that European eyes looked upon it attracted and 
charmed the attention of explorers, geographers, gi'eat rulers, stu- 
dents, and men of sagacious and far reaching intellect. 

From Gomara the long list of famous names which have 
linked themselves with Nicaragua reaches down through Hum- 
boldt, Napoleon III , Amraen, Lull, Menocal and Taylor. 

The shores were first seen by Europeans in 1502, when Colum- 
bus in his fourth voyage rounded the cape which forms the 
northeast angle of the state, and called it " Gracias a Dios," 
which name it bears to-daj^ Columbus then coasted southward 
along the eastern shore. 

In 1522, Avila, penetrated from the Pacific coast of the coun- 
try to the lakes and the cities of the Indian inhabitants. 
Previous to this the country was occupied by a numerous 
population of Aztecs, or nearly allied people, as the quan- 
tities of specimens of pottery, gold images, and other articles 
found upon the islands and along the shores of the lakes, prove 

316 National GeograjpMc Magazine. 

In 1529 the connection of the lakes with the Caribbean sea 
was discovered, and during the last half of the eighteenth cen- 
tury a considerable commerce was carried on by this route 
between Granada on Lake Nicaragua and the cities of Nombre 
de Dios, Cartagena, Havana and Cadiz. 

In 1821 Nicaragua threw off the rule of the mother country 
and in 1823 formed with her sister Spanish colonies, a confedera- 
tion. This confederation was dissolved in 1838, and since then 
Nicaragua has conducted her own affairs. In point of advance- 
ment, financial solidity and stability of government she stands to- 
day nearly, if not quite, at the head of the Central American 

Nicaragua extends over a little more than four degrees each of 
latitude and longitude, from about N. 11° to N. 15° and from 
83° 20' W. to 87° 40' W. 

Its longest side is the northern border from the Gulf of Fon- 
seca northeasterly to Cape Gracias a Dios, two hundred and ninety 
miles. From that cape south to the mouth of the Rio San Juan, 
the Caribbean coast line, is two hundred and fifty miles. Nearly 
due west across the Isthmus to Salinas Bay on the Pacific, is one 
hundred and twenty miles. The Pacific coast line extends thence 
northwest one hundred and sixty miles. 

In point of size Nicaragua stands first among the Central 
American republics having an area of 51,600 square miles. It is 
larger than either the State of New York or Pennsylvania, about 
the size of Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland 
combined, and is one-fourth as large as France or Germany. Its 
population numbers about 300,000. 

The Gulf of Fonseca, at the northern, and Salinas Bay at the 
southern extremity of the coast line are two of the finest and 
largest harbors on the Pacific coast of Central America. About 
midway between them is the fine harbor of Corinto, and there 
are also several other ports along the coast, at San Juan del Sur, 
Brito and Tamarindito. On the Caribbean coast no harbors suit- 
able for large vessels exist, but numerous lagoons and bights 
afford the best of shelter for coasting vessels. 

The central portion of Nicaragua is traversed, from north to 
south, by the main cordillera of the isthmus, which, here greatly 
reduced in altitude, consists merelj^ of a confused mass of peaks 
and ridges with an average elevation scarcely exceeding 1,000 

Across Nicaragua with Transit and Machete. 31 Y 

Between this mountainous region and the Caribbean shore 
stretches a low level country, covered with a dense forest, rich in 
rubber, cedar, mahogany and dye woods. It is drained by sev- 
eral large rivers whose fertile intervales will yield almost incred- 
ible harvests of plantains, bananas, oranges, limes, and other 
tropical fruits. 

West of the mountain zone is a broad valley, about one hun- 
dred and twenty-iive feet above the level of the sea, extending 
from the Gulf of Fonseca, southeasterly to the frontier of Costa 
Rica. The greater portion of this valley is occupied by- two 
lakes, Managua and Nicaragua. The latter one hundred and ten 
miles long by fifty or sixty miles wide is really an inland sea, 
being one-half as large as Lake Ontario and twice as large as 
Long Island Sound. These lakes, with the rainfall of the adja- 
cent valleys, drain through the noble San Juan river, which dis- 
charges into the Caribbean at Greytown, at the southeast angle 
of the country. 

Between the Pacific and these lakes is a narrow strip of land, 
from twelve to thirty miles in width, stretching from the magnifi- 
cent plain of Leon with its cathedral city, in the north, to the rol- 
ling indigo fields and the cacao plantations which surround the 
garden city of Rivas, in the south. 

The lowest pass across the backbone of the New World, from 
Behring's Strait to the Straits of Magellan, extends along the 
San Juan valley and across the Lajas — Rio Grande " divide," be- 
tween Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific ; the summit of this 
divide is only one hundred and fifty-two feet above the sea and 
forty-two feet above the lake. 

Nicaragua presents yet another unique physical feature. 
Lying between the elevated mountain masses of Costa Rica 
on the south and Honduras on the north, the average eleva- 
tion of its own mountain backbone hardly one thousand feet, it 
is the natural thoroughfare of the beneficent northeast Trades. 
These winds sweep in from the Caribbean across the Atlantic 
fllopes, break the surface of the lakes into sparkling waves, and 
then disappear over the Pacific, aerating, cooling and purifying 
the country, destroying the germs of disease and making Nicara- 
gua the healthiest region in Central America. 

The scenery of the eastern portion of the country is of the 
luxuriant sameness peculiar to all tropical countries. 

318 National Geographic Magazine. 

In the vicinity of the lakes and between them and the Pacific,, 
the isolated mountain peaks which bound the plain of Leon 
on the northeast ; the mountain islands of Madera and Ometepe ;. 
the towering turquoise masses of the Costa Rican volcanoes ;, 
and the distant blue mountains of Segovia and Matagalpa, visible 
beyond the sparkling waters of the lakes, feast the eye with 
scenic beauties, unsurpassed elsewhere in grandeur, variety and 
richness of coloring. 

The products of the country are numerous despite the fact that 
its resources are as yet almost entirely undeveloped. 

Maize, plantains, bananas, oranges, limes, and indeed every 
tropical fruit, thrive in abundance. Coffee is grown in large 
quantities in the hilly region in the northwest ; sugar, tobacco,, 
cotton, rice, indigo and cacao plantations abound between the 
lakes and the Pacific ; potatoes and wheat thrive in the uplands 
of Segovia ; the Chontales region east of Lake Nicaragua, a 
great grazing section, supports thousands of head of cattle ; and 
back of this are the gold and silver districts of La Libertad,, 
Javali and others. 

Numerous trees and plants of medicinal and commercial value 
are found in the forests. Game is plentiful and of numerous, 
varieties ; deer, wild hog, wild turkey, manatee and tapir ; and 
fish abound in the streams and rivers. The temperature of 
Nicaragua is equable. The extreme variation, recorded by 
Childs, was 23° observed near the head of the San Juan in 
May, 1851. 

The southeast wind predominates during the rainy season. 
Occasionally, in June or October as a rule, the wind hauls round 
to southwest and a temporal results, heavy rain sometimes falling 
for a week or ten days. 

The equatorial cloud-belt, following the sun north in the spring, 
is late reaching Nicaragua, and the wet season is shorter than in 
regions farther south. The average rainfall, based on the records 
of nine years, is 64.42 inches. The "trades" blow almost, 
throughout the year. Strong during the dry season and fresh- 
ening during the day ; the wind comes from the east-northeast, 
and blows usually for four to five days, when, hauling to the east 
or southeast for a day or two, it calms down, then goes back to. 
northeast and rises again. 

The Spanish discoverers of the great Lake Nicaragua, coming 
upon it from the Pacific, and noting the fluctuations of level caused 


Across Nica/ragua with Transit and Machete. 319 

by the action of the wind upon its broad surface, mistook these 
fluctuations for tides and felt assured that some broad strait con- 
nected it with the North Sea. Later, when Machuca had discov- 
ered the grand river outlet of the lake, and the restless searching 
of other explorers in every bay and inlet along both sides of the 
American isthmus had extinguished forever the ignis fatuus 
"Secret of the Strait," Gomara pointed this out as one of the 
most favorable localities for an artificial communication between 
the North and South Seas. 

It was not until 1851, however, that an accurate and scientific 
survey of a ship canal'route was made by Col. O. W. Childs. 

This survey which showed the lake of Nicaragua to be only 
one hundred and seven feet above the sea, and the maximum ele- 
vation between the lake and the Pacific to be only forty-one feet, 
exhibited the advantages of this route so clearly and in such an 
unanswerable manner that it has never since been possible to 
ignore it. 

In 1870, under the administration of General Grant and largely 
through the unceasing efforts of Admiral Ammen, the United 
States began a series of systematic surveys of all the routes 
across the American isthmus from Tehuantepec to the head 
waters of the Rio Atrato ; and six years later, with the plans and 
results of all these surveys before it, a commission composed of 
General Humphreys, Chief of Engineers, U. S. Army ; Hon. 
Carlile Patterson, Superintendent U. S. Coast Survey ; and Rear- 
Admiral Daniel Ammen, Chief of Bureau of Navigation, U. S. 
Navy ; gave its verdict in favor of the Nicaragua route. 

The International Canal Congress at Paris, in 1879, had such 
convincing information placed before it that it was forced, in 
spite of its prejudices, to admit that in the advantages it offered 
for the construction of a lock canal, the Nicaragua route was 
superior to any other across the American isthmus. 

In 1876, and again in 1880 Civil Engineer A. G. Menocal, U. 
S. N., the chief engineer of previous governmental surveys, re- 
surveyed and revised portions of the route, and in 1885 the same 
engineer, assisted by myself, surveyed an entirely new line on the 
Caribbean side, from Greytown to the San Juan river, near the 
mouth of the San Carlos. 

On the eastern side of Nicaragua, all these surveys (except the 
last), were confined almost entirely to the San Juan river, and its 
immediate banks ; and the country on either side beyond these 

320 National GeogTajphic Magazine. 

narrow limits was, up to 1885, almost entirely unknown. Between 
Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific, however, every pass from the Bay 
of Salinas to the Gulf of Fonseca had been examined. 

In 1 885 the party of which I was a member pushed a nearly 
direct line across the country from a point on the San Juan, 
about three miles below the mouth of the Rio San Carlos, to 
Grey town, a distance of thirty one miles by our line, as compared 
with fifty six miles by the river and forty-two miles by the 
former proposed canal route. 

In December, 1887, I went out in charge of a final surveying 
expedition, consisting of some forty engineers and assistants and 
one hundred and fifty laborers, to resurvey and stake out the 
line of the canal preparatory to the work of construction. 

The information and personal experience gained in previous 
surveys made it possible, without loss of time, to locate the 
various sections of the expedition in the most advantageous man- 
ner, and push the work with the greatest speed consistent with 

The location lines of the previous surveys were taken as a pre- 
liminary line and carefully re-measured and re-levelled. Pre- 
liminary offsets were run ; the location made, and staked off upon 
the ground ; offsets run in from three hundred to one hundred feet 
apart, extending beyond the slope limits of the canal; borings 
made at frequent intervals ; and all streams gauged. 

The result of this work was a series of detail charts and pro- 
files, based upon rigidly checked instrumental data, and covering 
the entire line from Greytown to Brito, from which to estimate 
quantities and cost. 

As may be imagined by those familiar with ti-opical countries, 
the prosecution of a survey in these regions is an arduous and 
difficult work, and one demanding special qualifications in the en- 
gineer. His daj^s are filled with a succession of surprises, usually 
disagreeable, and constant happenings of the unexpected. Prob- 
ably in no other country will the traveler, explorer, or engineer, 
find such an endless variety of obstacles to his progress. 

Every topographical feature of the country is shrouded and 
hidden under a tropical growth of huge trees and tangled under- 
brush, so dense that it is impossible for even a strong, active man, 
burdened with nothing but a rifle, to force himself through it 
without a short, heavy sword or tnach'ete, with which to cut his 

Across Nicaragua with Transit and Machete. 321 

Under these circumstances the most observant engineer and ex- 
pert woodsman may pass within a hundred feet of the base of a 
considerable hill and not have a suspicion of its existence, or he 
may be entirely unaware of the proximity of a stream until he is 
on the point of stepping over the edge of its precipitous banks. 

The topography of the country has to be laboriously felt out, 
much as a blind man familiarizes himself with his surroundings. 
In doing this work the indispensable instrument, without which 
the transit, the level, and indeed the engineer himself is of no use, 
is the national weapon of Nicaragua, the mach'ete, a short, 
heavy sword. 

As soon as he is able to walk, the son of the Nicaraguan raozo 
or hidero takes as a plaything a piece of iron hoop or an old 
knife, and imitates his father with his machete. As he gets 
older a broken or worn-down weapon is given him, and when he 
is able to handle it, a full size machete is entrusted to him and he 
then considers himself a man. From that day on, waking or 
sleeping, our Nicaraguan's machete is always at his side. With it 
he cuts his way through the woods ; with it he builds his camp and 
his bed ; with it he kills his game and fish ; with it at a pinch 
he shaves himself, or extracts the thoi-ns from his feet ; with it 
he fights his duels, and with it, when he dies, his comrades dig 
his grave. 

When in the field the chief of a party, equipped with a pocket 
compass and an aneroid barometer, is always skirmishing ahead 
of the line with a mach'etero, or axeman, to cut a path for him. A 
pushing chief, however, speedily dispenses with the mach'etero 
and slashes a way for himself much more rapidly. 

As soon as he decides where the line is to go the engineer calls 
to the m^acheteros and the two best ones immediately begin cut- 
ting toward the sound of his voice. They soon slash a nar- 
row path to him, drive a stake where he was standing and then 
turn ,back toward the other tnach'eteros, who have been following 
them, cutting a wider path and clearing away all trees, vines and 
branches, so that the transit man can see the flag at the stake. 
The moment the leading macheteros reach him the chief starts off 
again and by the time the main body of axemen have reached his 
former position the head macheteros are cutting toward the sound 
of his voice in a new position. 

As soon as the line is cleared the transit man takes his sight 
and moves ahead to the stake, the chainmen follow and drive 

322 JS'ational Geographic Magazine. 

stakes every hundred feet, and the leveller follows putting in 
elevations and cross sections. In this way the work goes on 
from early morning until nearly dark, stopping about an hour for 

After the day's work comes the dinner, the table graced with 
wild hog, or turkey, or venison, or all. After dinner the smoke, 
then the day's notes are worked up and duplicated and all hands 
get into their nets. For a moment the countless nocturnal noises 
of the great forest, enlivened perhaps by the scream of a tiger, 
or the deep, muffled roar of a puma, fall upon drowsy ears, then 
follows the sleep that always accompanies hard work and good 
health, till the bull-voiced howling monkeys set the forest echo- 
ing with their announcement of the breaking dawn. 

In reconnoissance and preliminary work the experienced engi- 
neer, is able, in many cases, to avoid obstacles without vitiating 
the results of his work, but in the final location, in staking out 
absolute curves and driving tangents thousands of feet long 
across country, no dodging is possible. 

On the hills and elevated ground the engineer can, compara- 
tively speaking, get along quite comfortably, his principal annoy- 
ances being the uneven character of the ground, which compels 
bim to set his instrument very frequently, and the necessity of 
felling some gigantic tree every now and then. 

In the valleys and lowlands there is an unceasing round of 
obstacles. The line may run for some distance over level ground 
covered with a comparatively open growth, then without warn- 
ing it encounters the wreck of a fallen tree, and hours are con- 
sumed hewing a passage through the mass of broken limbs and 
shattered trunk, all matted and bound together with vines and 
shrubbery. A little farther on a stream is crossed, and the line 
may cross and recross four or five times in the next thousand feet. 
The engineer must either climb down the steep banks, for the 
streams burrow deep in the stiff clay of these valleys, ford the 
stream and climb the opposite bank, or he must fall a tree from 
bank to bank and cross on its slippery trunk twenty or twenty- 
five feet above the water. 

Either on the immediate bank or in its vicinity is almost cer- 
tain to be encountered a " saccate " clearing. This may be only 
■one or two hundred feet across or it may be a half a mile. In the 
former case the " saccate " grass will be ten or fifteen feet in 
lieight and so matted and interwoven with vines and briars 

Ac7'oss Nicaragim with Transit and Machete. 323 

that a tunnel may be cut through it as through a hedge. 
If the clearing be large, the tough, wiry grass is no higher than a 
man's head, and a path has to be mowed through it, while the 
sun beats down into the fui-nace-like enclosure till the blade of 
the machete becomes almost too hot to touch. 

But worse than anything thus far mentioned are the Silico or 
black palm swamps. Some of these in the larger valleys and 
near the coast are miles in extent. 

Occupied exclusively by the low, thick Silico palms, these 
«wamps are in the wet season absolutely impassable except for 
monkeys and alligators, and even at the end of the dry season 
the engineer enters upon one with sinking heart as well as feet, 
and emerges from it tired and used up in every portion of his 
anatomy. It is with the utmost difficulty that he finds a prac- 
ticable place to locate his instrument, generally utilizing the 
little hummocks formed by the trunks of the clusters of palms, 
and in moving from point to point he is compelled to wade from 
knee to shoulder deep in the black mud and water. 

General reconnaissances from high trees in elevated localities, 
simple enough in theory, are by no means easy in a country so 
miserly with its secrets as this, nor are their results reliable 
without a great expenditure of time, labor, and patience. 

On level, undulating and moderately broken ground, the tops 
of the trees, though they may be one hundred and fifty feet from 
the ground, are level as the top of a hedge. Even an isolated 
hill if it be rounded in shape presents hardly better facilities, the 
trees at the base and on the sides, in their effort to reach the sun- 
light grow taller than those on the summit, and there is no one 
tree that commands all the others. 

If however an isolated hill of several hundred feet in height 
be found, its steep sides culminating in a sharp peak, one day's 
work by three or four good axmen, in cutting neighboring trees, 
will prepare the way for a study of the general relief and topog- 
raphy of the adjacent country. If after these preliminaries have 
been completed the engineer imagines that he has only to climb 
the tree and sketch what he sees, to obtain reliable knowledge of 
the country, he is doomed to serious surprises in the future. If 
he makes the ascent during the middle of the day, he will, after 
he has cooled off and rested from his exhausting efforts, see 
spread out before him a shimmering landscape in which the uni- 
form green carpet and the vertical sun combined, have obliterated 

324 National Geographic Magazine. 

all outlines except the more prominent irregularities of the ter- 
rene, and have blended different mountain ranges, one of which 
may be several miles beyond the other, into one, of which only 
the sky profile is distinct. Naturally under these conditions 
estimates of distance may be half or double the truth. 

There ai'e two ways of extracting reliable information from 
these tree-top reconnaissances. If it be in the rainy season the 
observer must be prepared to make a day of it, and when he 
ascends the tree in the morning he takes with him a long light 
line with which to pull up his coffee and lunch. 

Then aided by the successive showers which sweep across the 
landscape, leaving fragments of mists in the ravines, and hanging 
grey screens between the different ranges and mountains, bringing 
out the relief first of this and then of that section, an accurate 
sketch may gradually be made. The time of passage of a shower 
from one peak to another, or to the observer, may also be utilized 
as a by no means to be despised check upon distance estimates. 

If it be the dry season, the observer may take his choice be- 
tween remaining on his perch in the tree from before sunrise to 
after sunset, or making two ascents, one early in the morning 
and the other late in the afternoon. In this case the slowly dis- 
persing clouds of morning, and the gradually gathering mists at 
sunset, together with the reversed lights and shadows at dawn 
and sunset, bring out very clearly the relief of the terrene, the 
overlapping of distant ranges,- and the course of the larger 

This kind of work cannot be delegated to anyone, and besides 
the arduous labor involved in climbing the huge trees, there are 
other serious annoyances connected with it. The climber is 
almost certain to disturb some venomous insect which revenges 
itself by a savage sting which has to be endured ; or he may rend 
clothes and skin also, on some thorny vine, or another, crushed by 
his efforts, may exude a juice which will leave him tattooed for 
days ; then, though there may not be a mosquito or fly at the 
base of the tree, the top will be infested with myriads of minute 
black flies, which cover hands and face, and with extremely 
annoying results. On the other hand the explorer may as a com- 
pensation have his nostrils filled with the perfume of some bril- 
liant oi'chid on a neighboring branch ; and there is a breezy 
enjoyment in watching the showers as they rush across the green 
carpet, and in listening to the roar with which the big drops beat 
upon the tree tops. 

Across NicaragiLa with Transit and Machete. 325 

The special phase of field work which fell to my personal lot 
was entirely reconnaissance, consisting of canoe examinations of 
all streams in the vicinity of the line of the canal, to determine 
their sources, character of valley, and approximate water shed ; 
of rapid air-line compass and aneroid trails, to connect one 
stream, or valley head with another, or furnish a base line for a 
genei'al sketch plan of a valley ; and of studies of the larger 
features of the terrene, from elevated tree tops. 

The last has been already described ; in the second the experi- 
ence was very similar to that of the parties in running main lines. 
On these occasions three or at most four hardy huleros (rubber 
hunters) comprised the party, two carrying the blankets, mosquito 
bars and provisions for several days, and one or two cutting the 
lightest possible practicable trail and marking prominent trees. 

In a day's march of from five to eight miles, and this was the 
utmost that even such a light, active and experienced party could 
cover in one day, every possible and some almost impossible kinds 
of traveling was encountered, and thoroughly exhausted men 
crept into their bars every night. 

The canoe reconnaissances were more agreeable, though some 
most unpleasant as well as most enjoyable memories are connected 
with them. 

The innumerable large fallen trees which obstruct the streams 
and over or through which the canoe must be hauled bodily, the 
almost inevitable capsizing of the canoe, the monotonous red clay 
banks on either side and the frequent necessity of lying down at 
night in a bed of mud into which the droves of wild pigs which 
inhabit these valleys have trampled the clayey soil, are among 
the disagreeable incidents. 

From the head of canoe navigation to their sources the char- 
acter of these streams is entirely different, and both in 1888 and 
in 1885 I have followed them far up into mountain gorges, the 
beauty of which is as fresh in ray memory as if I had been there 
but yesterday. 

The crew of the canoe on these reconnaissances usually con- 
sisted of three picked men, and when the canoe had been pushed 
as far up stream as it was possible for it to go, two of the men 
were left with it while the third and best, slinging the blankets, 
bars, and a little coffee, sugar, and milk, upon his back pushed on 
with me. Wading through the shallow water up the bed of the 
stream, taking bearings and estimating distances, while my huUrQ 

VOL. I. 34 


'National Geographic Magazine. 

followed, ever alert to strike some drowsy beauty of a fish in the 
clear water ; the soiirce of the stream was generally reached in 
a day, and never did we make preparations to sleep on some bed 
of clean, yellow sand washed down by the stream in flood times, 
but what I had a plump turkey hanging from my belt, and my 
hulero several fine fish. 

Much has been written about the climate of Nicaragua and its 
effect upon the inhabitants of more northerly countries when ex- 
posed to it. 

It would seem that the experience of the numerous expeditions 
sent out by the United States, and the reports of the surgeons at- 
tached to those expeditions would have long since settled the 
matter. To those who cannot understand how there can be such a 
difference in climate between two localities so slightly removed as 
Panama and Nicaragua, and the former possessing a notori- 
ously deadly climate, the experience of the recent surveying ex- 
pedition must be conclusive. 

Only five members of that expedition had ever been in tropi- 
cal climates before, and the rod men and chainmen of the party 
were young men just out of college who had never done a day's 
manual labor, nor slept on the ground a night in their lives. Ar- 
riving at Greytown during the rainy season, the first work that 
they encountered was the transporting of their supplies and 
camp equipage to the sites of the various camps. This had to be 
done hj means of canoes along streams obstructed with logs and 
fallen trees. Some parties were a week in reaching their des- 
tination, wading and swimming by day, lifting and pushing their 
canoes along, and at night lying down on the ground to sleep. 
One party worked for six months in the swamps and lagoon 
region directly back of Greytown, and several other parties 
worked for an equal length of time in the equally disagreeable 
swamps of the valley of the San Francisco. Several of these 
officers are down there yet, as fresh as ever. In making tours of 
inspection of the different sections I liave repeatedly, for several 
days and nights in succession, passed the days traveling in the 
woods through swamps and rain, and the nights sleeping as best 
I could, curled up imder a blanket in a small canoe, while my 
men paddled from one camp to the next. 

In spite of all this exposure not only were there no deaths in 
the expedition but there was not a single case of serious illness, 
and the ofiicers who have returned up to this time, were in better 
health and weight than when they went away. 

Across Nicaragua with Transit and Machete. 327 

Of course the men had the best of food that money could ob- 
tain and previous experience suggest, and the chiefs of all parties 
were required to strictly enforce certain sanitary regulations in 
regard to coffee in the morning, a thorough bath and dose of 
spirits on retiirning from work, and mosquito bars and dry sleep - 
ing suits at night ; yet the climate must be held principally re- 
sponsible for a sanitary result which I believe could not be ex- 
celled in any temperate zone city, with the same number of men, 
doing the same arduous work under conditions of equal exposure. 

The forests everywhere abound in game and every party which 
included in its personnel a good rifle-shot was sure of a constant 
supply of wild pig, turkey, quail and grouse, varied by an occa- 
sional deer, all obtained in the ordinary work of reconnoissance 
and surveying. For the men's table there was abundance of 
monkey, iguana and macaw. 

Parties in the lower valleys of the various streams had no 
trouble in adding two or three varieties of very toothsome fish 
to their bill of fare, though these fish were rarely caught with 
the hook, but usually shot, or knifed by an alert native, as they 
basked in the shallows. These parties also obtained occasionally 
a danta (tapir) or a manatee. 

On the river it was possible to obtain a fine string of fish with 
hook and line, then there was the huge tarpon to be had for the 
spearing, and fish pots sunk in suitable places were sure to yield 
a mess of fresh water lobsters. Ducks were also occasionally 

The forms of life are even more numerous in the vegetable than 
in the animal kingdom. The effect of these wonderful forests 
is indescribable, and though many writers have essayed a descrip- 
tion, I have yet to see one that does the subject justice. Only a 
simple enumeration of component parts will be attempted here. 
First comes the grand body of the forest, huge almendro, havilan, 
guachipilin, cortez, cedar, cottonwood, palo de leche trees, and 
others rising one hundred and fifty or two hundred feet into the 
scintillant sunshine. The entire foliage of these trees is at the top 
and their great trunks reaching up for a hundred feet or more 
without a branch offer a wonderful variety of studies in types of 
column. Some rise straight and smooth, and true, others send 
out thin deep buttresses, and others look like the muscle-knotted 
fore-arm of a Titan, with gnarled fingers griping the ground in 
their wide grasp. 

8^8 . National Geographic Magazine. 

But whatever the form of the tree trunks may be, the shallow 
soil upon the hills and the marshy soil in the lowlands, has taught 
them that there is greater safety and stability in a broad founda- 
tion than in a deeply penetrating one, and so almost without 
exception the tree roots spread out widely, on, or near, the sur- 
face. Beneath the protecting shelter of these patriarchs^ as com- 
pletely protected from scorching sun and rushing wind as if in a 
conservatory, grow innumerable varieties of palms, young trees 
destined Some day to be giants themselves, and others which 
never attain great size. Still lower down, luxuriate smaller palms, 
tree ferns, and dense underbrush, and countless vines. These 
latter, however, are by no means confined to the underbrush, 
many of them climb to the very tops of the tallest trees, cling 
about their trunks and bind them to other trees and to the 
ground with the toughest of ropes. With one or two excep- 
tions these vines are an unmitigated nuisance. To them more 
than to anything else is due the impenetrableness of the tropical 
thicket. Of all sizes and all as tough as hemp lines, they creep 
along the ground, catching the traveler's feet in a mesh from 
which release is possible only by cutting. They bind the under- 
brush together in a tough, elastic mat, which catches and holds 
on to every projection about the clothes, jerking revolvers from 
belts, and wrenching the rifle from the hand, or, hanging in trap- 
like loops from the trees, catch one about the neck, or constantly 
drag one's hat from the head. The one exception noted above is 
the hejuco de agua or water vine. This vine, which looks like an 
old worn manilla rope, is to be found hanging from or twined 
about almost every large tree upon elevated ground, and to the 
hot and thirsty explorer it furnishes a most deliciously cool and 
clear draught. 

Seizing the vine in the left hand, a stroke of the niachHe severs 
it a foot or two below the hand, and another quick stroke severs 
it again above the hand ; immediately a stream of clear, tasteless 
water issues from the lower end and may be caught in a dipper 
or d la native directly in the mouth. A three-foot length of vine 
two inches in diameter will furnish at least a pint of water. The 
order of cutting mentioned above must invariably be adhered to, 
otherwise, if the upper cut be made first, the thirsty novice will 
find he has in his hand only a piece of dry cork-like rope. 

It is practically impossible to judge of the age of the huge trees 
in these forests. Mighty with inherent strength, stayed to the 

Across Nicaragua with Transit and Machete. 329 

ground aud to their fellows by the numerous vines, sheltered and 
protected also by their fellows from the shock of storms, their 
huge trunks have little to do except support the direct weight of 
the tops, and they rarely fall until they have reached the last stages 
of decay. Then some day the sudden impact of a ton or two of 
water dropped from some furious tropical shower, or the vibra- 
tions from a hurrying troop of monkeys, or the spring of a tiger, 
is too much for one of the giant branches heavy with its load of 
vines and parasites, and it gives way, breaking the vines in ewerj 
direction and splitting a huge strip from the main trunk. With 
its supports thus broken and the whole weight of the remaining 
branches on one side, the weakened trunk sways fof a moment 
then bows to its fate. The remaining vines break with the resist- 
less strain, and the old giant gathering velocity as he falls and 
dragging with him everything in his reach, crashes to the earth 
with a roar which elicits cries of terror from bird and beast, 
and goes booming through the quivering forest like the report 
of a heavy cannon. A patch of blue sky overhead and a pile of 
impenetrable debris below, mark for years the grave of the old 

As regards the insect and reptile pests of the country it has 
been my experience that both their numbers and capacity for 
torment have been greatly exaggerated. Mosquitoes, flies of 
various sizes, wasps and stinging ants exist, and the first in 
some places in large numbers ; yet to a person who has any 
of the woodsman's craft of taking care of himself, and whose 
blood is not abnormally sensitive to insect poisons, they pre- 
sent no terrors and but slight annoyances. At our headquarters 
camp on San Francisco island, we had no mosquitoes from 
sunrise to sunset, and even after sunset they were not especially 
numerous. At another camp only a few miles away there w^ere 
black flies only and no mosquitoes, at another both, while at 
the camps up in the hills there were neither. It was only at 
camps in the wet lowlands and near swamps, that they became an 
almost unendurable annoyance. Even here it was those who 
remained in camp that suffered most. Men out in the thick 
brush were but little annoyed by them, and when on their return 
to camp they had finished their dinner and gotten into their 
mosquito bars they were out of their reach. As to snakes, the 
danger from them even to a European, is practically nothing. 
Not a man of the several hundred that have been engaged in the 

330 National Geographic Magazine. 

various expeditions in that country has ever been bitten, and 
in hundreds of miles of tramping through the worst forests 
of the country, either entirely alone or if accompanied by natives, 
with them some distance in the rear, 1 have never fancied myself 
in danger. The poisonous snakes are invariably sluggish, and 
unless actually struck or stepped upon are apt to try to get out 
of the way, if they make any move. The only snake that is at 
all aggressive, as far as my observations go, is a long, black, 
non-poisonous snake. This will sometimes advance upon the 
intruder with head raised a couple of feet from the ground, 
or if coiled about a tree will lash at him with its tail. 

The floral exhibit of these forests is apt to be disappointing to 
one whose ideas have been formed by a perusal of books. An 
occasional scarlet passion flower ; now and then the fragrant cluster 
of the floT del toro ; a few insignificant though fragrant flowering 
shrubs ; and in muddy sloughs near the streams, patches of wild 
callas ; are about all that meet the eye of the non-botanical wan- 
derer in the deep foi'est. 

There is not light enough for flowers beneath the dense canopy 
of trees, and they, like the smaller birds, seek the tree tops and 
the banks of the river whei'e sunlight and air are abundant. In 
the tree tops the orchids and other flowering parasites run riot. 
Many of the trees are themselves flowering, and if one can look 
down upon the tree tops of a valley in March or April, he sees the 
green expanse enlivened by blazing patches of crimson, yellow, 
purple, pink, and white. 

The river banks are the favorite home of the flowering vines, 
and there they form great curtains swaying from the trees in 
bright patterns of yellow, j)ink, red and white. The grassy 
banks and islands, and the shallow sand spits also bring forth 
innumerable varieties of aquatic plants. 

So much for the Atlantic slope of the country. 

On the west side between the Lake and the Pacific the work 
is very different. There it is possible to ride mule back to the 
top of a commanding hill, sit down and make the reconnaissance 
sketch at leisure. The secondary reconnaissances may also be 
made mule-back, and everywhere the rolling country and the 
cleared and cultivated fields, permit the engineer to see where he 
is going and how he is going. 

His surroundings are also different. He moves camp in an ox- 
cart instead of a canoe.. His eyes instead of being confined by 

Across Nicaragua with Transit and Machete. 331 

the impenetrable veil of the tropical thicket, feast upon views of 
the distant mountains, the crisp waves of the Lal<e, and the blue 
expanse of the Pacific. During the day he meets black-eyed and 
brown-limbed senoritas, instead of wild hogs and turkeys, and at 
night as he turns in, he hears, not the scream of tigers, but the 
songs of the lavandera^s ecru daughters floating across the stream 
which supplies their wash-tubs and his camp. 

The first grand natural feature which arrests attention in the 
most cursory examination of the map of Nicaragua is the Great 
Lake. This lake with an area of some three thousand square 
miles and a water-shed of about eight thousand square miles, is 
unique in the large proportion of its own area to that of its water- 
shed. A result of this large proportion of water surface to 
drainage area, at once evident, is the very gradual changes of 
level of the lake and their confinement within very narrow limits. 
The difference between the level of the lake at the close of an 
abnormally dry season and its level at the close of an abnormally 
wet season is not more than ten feet, and the usual annual fluctu- 
ation is about five feet. 

The next features that arrest attention are, first, the very 
narrow ribbon of land intervening between the western shore of 
the Lake and the Pacific, and second, the entire absence of lateral 
tributaries of any size to the upjjer half of the San Juan River. 
The river is in fact, as it was originally most aptly named, simply 
the " Desaguadero " or drain of the Lake. 

The length of this river is one hundred and twenty miles, from 
the Lake to the Caribbean Sea, and its total fall from one hundred 
to one hundred and ten feet. Nature has separated the river 
into two nearly equal divisions, presenting distinct and opposite 

From Lake Nicaragua to the mouth of the Rio San Carlos, a 
distance of sixty-one miles, in which occur several rapids, the 
total descent is fifty feet, quite irregularly distributed however. 
The surface slopes of the river vary from as much as 83.38 inches 
per mile for a short distance at Castillo rapids, to only .90 inch 
per mile through the Agua Muerte, the dead water below the 
Machuca rapids. . 

The average width of the river through this upper section is 
seven hundred feet, the minimum four hundx'ed and twenty. Li 
some parts of the Agua Muerte the depth varies from fifty to 
seventy-five feet. 

332 National Geographic Magazine. 

There are very few islands in this section of the river, the 
banks are covered with huge trees matted with vines, and through- 
out the lower half of the division, from Toro rapids to the mouth 
of the San Carlos, the river is confined between steep hills and 

As a result of the absence of considerable tributaries already- 
noted, the fluctuations of this portion of the river conform closely 
to those of the Lake, and consequently take place gradually and 
are limited in range. 

Below the Rio San Carlos the San Juan changes its character 
entirely. Its average width is twelve hundred and fifty feet, its 
bottom is sandy, there are numerous islands, and the slope of the 
river is almost uniformly one foot per mile. 

The discharge into this section of two large tributaries, the 
San Carlos and the Sarapiqui, descending from the steep slopes of 
the Costa Rican volcanoes, causes much more sudden and consid- 
erable fluctuations of level than in the upper river. 

While the lower portion of the river and especially the delta 
section presents vex-y interesting featui'es, yet the peculiar charm 
of the river is in the upper section, and the exceptional advantages 
it offers for obtaining miles of slack water navigation. This por- 
tion of the river with the lake and the narrow isthmus between it 
and the Pacific forms a trio of natural advantages for the con- 
struction of a canal, the importance of which it would be difficult 
to over estimate. 

About three miles below the mouth of the San Carlos, the Cario 
Machado enters the San Juan on the north bank. This stream, 
about one hundred feet wide and from eight to ten feet deep, is 
the last of the mountain or torrential tributaries of the San Juan. 
It can scarcely be said to have a valley, but occupies the bed of a 
rugged ravine extending for several miles northerly and north- 
westerly up into the easterly flank of the cordillera. Every 
variety of igneous rock, from light porous pumice to dense metallic 
green-black hypersthene andesite, may be picked up in the bed 
of this stream. Agates also are common and there are occasional 
masses of jasper. Farther up, frequent outcrops of trap in situ 
occur, interspersed in some localities with numerous veins of 

Twelve miles below the Machado the San Francisco enters the 
San Juan, This stream, with its several tributaries, drains a large 
swampy valley sprinkled with irregular hummocks and hills. For 

Across Nicaragua with Transit and Machete. 333 

several miles from the San Juan it is a sluggish, muddy stream 
between steep slippery banks ; higher up, flowing over a gravelly 
and then a rocky bed, it finally disappears in steep ravines 
filled with huge bowlders. The main San Francisco comes 
from the northwest, but a large tributary has its source to the 
eastward in a range of hills which separates the San Francisco 
basin from the immediate Caribbean water-shed. This range, 
unlike the ones already noted, is at heart an uninterrupted mass 
of homogeneous hypersthene andesite, and with one exception 
nothing but fragments of trap or trap in situ, is to be found in 
any of the streams descending from either its western or eastern 
slopes. The one exception is the Canito Maria, a tributary of 
the San Francisco, entering it but little more than a mile from the 
San Juan. In the bed of this stream were abundant sj)ecimens of 
agates, jasper, and petrified woods of several varieties in a 
wonderfully good state of preservation. 

This range of hills ends at the Tamborcito bend of the San 
Juan, four miles below the mouth of the San Francisco, and is the 
last easterlj^ projecting spur from the mountain backbone of the 
interior. Between it and the coast there are, however, mountain 
masses of equal or greater elevation, notably " El Gigante " and 
the Silico hills, the former some fifteen hundred feet high, but 
these are simply isolated mountain ganglia, their innumerable 
radiating spurs speedily giving way to swamps or river valleys. 

The streams that flow down the eastern slope of the Silico hills 
are, from their sources to the lowlands, of almost idyllic beauty. 
Beginning as noisy little brooks tumbling over black rocks in a 
V-shaped ravine near the summit of the hills, they rapidly gather 
volume and slide along in a polished channel of trap, tumbling 
every now and then as sheets of white spray over vertical ledges 
forming here and there deep green pools, and then after they 
have passed down among the foot-hills, rippling in broad shallow 
reaches over sunlit beds of bright yellow gravel. The water of 
these streams is clear and sparkling as that of an Alpine stream 
and apparently almost as cool. The insect pests of the tropics 
are unknown in the elevated portions of their valleys, and I have 
slept more than once beside one of these streams, several hundred 
feet above sea level, without a mosquito bar, while the delightful 
" trades," rustling through the trees above me, brought the mur- 
mur of the Caribbean surf miles away, to mingle with that of the 

VOL. I. 35 

334 National Geograjjhic Magazine. 

The soil of this range consists, to a depth of ten to forty feet, 
of clay of various grades and colors, red prevailing. In the 
valleys this clay is almost invariably of a very dense consistency, 
and deep, dark red in color. 

From the foot-hills of the range to the coast, is a low level 
stretch of country, a dozen miles wide, interspersed with 
lagoons and swamps. Near the hills, where the elevation of the 
ground will average about fifteen feet above sea level, the soil is 
composed almost entirely of the before mentioned red clay, 
which occasionally assumes the form of hummocks. Within 
about six miles of the coast this stratum of clay gradually disap- 
pears under a layer of sand, which is in turn covered, by a vege- 
table mould, to a depth of a few feet. From this point to the sea 
the average elevation is barely five feet above the sea level, and 
the sand and mould above mentioned are the only materials met. 
A short distance from the ocean the vegetable earth-covering 
disappears and only the sand is left, extending to an unknown 
depth and reaching out into the sea. 

West of Lake Nicaragua, from the Rio Lajas to Brito, as we 
leave the lake shore, the ground rises almost imperceptibly to 
the " Divide " among cleared and gently undulating fields. Then 
we drop into the sinuous gorge of the Rio Grande only to emerge, 
a few miles farther on, into the upper end of the Rio Grande and 
Tola basin. 

To the right the Tola valley sti-etches to the northward, and 
all around high and wooded hills encircle the valleys except 
directly in front where a narrow gateway in the coast hills opens 
to the Pacific. In the bottom of this valley are a few farms and 
through it wander devious roads. Beyond the narrow gateway 
in the hills, less than three miles of level swampy salinas reach to 
the surf of the Pacific. 

The views from the hills which flank the gateway of the Rio 
Grande, at La Flor, are wonderfully attractive. I well remember 
one camp on the hillside, from which in one direction the eye 
takes in the fertile valley of the Tola and Rio Grande, backed by 
the rolling hills of the " Divide " and over them the symmetrical 
peak of Ometepe, its base washed by the waves of the great 
lake. In the other direction the Pacific lies apparently but a 
stone's throw below, the little port of Brito at one's very feet. 

This same camp inspired one young engineer and enthusiast to 
express himself something as follows : 

Across Nicaragtia with, Transit and Machete. 835 

" What if, in this camp, we should, like Rip Van Winkle, sleep 
for ten years, and then awakening look about us ? We are still 
at Brito, but instead of being in the wilderness, we look down 
upon a thriving city. In the harbor are ships from all ports of 
the world. Ships from San Francisco, bound for New York, 
about to pass through the canal and shorten their journey by 
10,000 miles. Ships from Valparaiso, headed for New York, 
which will take the short cut and save 5000 miles and the dread 
storms of Cape Horn. At many a masthead floats the British 
flag, and vessels from Liverpool, with their bows turned towards 
San Francisco, have shortened their journey by 7000 miles." 

" We go aboard one of the many steamers flying the " stars and 
stripes " and start eastward. All along the line the face of the 
country has changed ; the fertile shores of the Tola basin are 
occupied by cacao plantations, fields have replaced forests, vil- 
lages have grown to towns, and factories driven by the exhaust- 
less water power furnished by the canal have sprung up on every 
available site." 

"Along the shore of the lake are immense dry docks, and vessels 
are resting in this huge fresh water harbor before setting out 
again on their long voyages. The broad bosom of the noble San 
Juaii is quivering with the strokes of tireless propellors. Tlie 
roar of the great dam at Ochoa is heard for a moment and then 
the eastern section of the canal is entered. Here the country is 
scarcely recognizable so greatly has it changed. Wilderness and 
marsh have disappeared, and only great fields of plantains and 
bananas and dark green orange groves are to be seen. A day 
from Brito and the steamer's bow is rising to the long blue swell 
of the Caribbean at Greytown." 

Well is this picture calculated to excite enthusiam, for it means 
the dream of centuries realized, the cry of commerce answered, 
and our imperial Orient and Occident-facing Republic resting 
content with coasts united from Eastport to the Strait of Fuca,